NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s latest stop on his ballpark farewell tour turned testy over his unyielding support of the New York Mets’ ownership.
With longtime friend and Mets chief executive officer Fred Wilpon sitting in the second row of the news conference room at Citi Field, Selig said he has no problem with the big-market team operating with an opening-day payroll that ranked 21st among the 30 teams and has drawn the ire of many of the club’s fans.
“From my perspective, I think that the way the Mets are doing this thing is correct,” Selig said Tuesday on his 20th stop of his goodbye trip before he is replaced by Rob Manfred on Jan. 25.
New York’s opening day payroll of $93 million is almost $60 million lower than it was in 2008, according to Major League Baseball figures. The high payrolls were before Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was uncovered, throwing the Mets into financial distress.
When asked why the Mets got a pass from the commissioner’s office while then-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers Frank McCourt was forced to sell his team because of financial improprieties, Selig vigorously defended New York’s actions.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve said this in the past and I’ll say it again: I don’t have any problem with the Mets’ financing, with what’s going on, as far as all of our economic rules, and we have a myriad of them,” Selig said. “They’re in compliance with them and doing fine.”
With the Mets headed for their sixth straight losing season and eighth without a playoff appearance, Selig defended New York’s rebuilding process.
The team has developed an impressive stable of young pitchers, including Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom.
Selig compared New York’s approach to that of the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, two organizations the former Milwaukee Brewers owner is impressed with. He said the Cardinals, who won World Series championships in 2006 and 2011, have had great success without “drunken-sailor” spending.
Selig also side-stepped commenting on a lawsuit filed last week against the Mets and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, Fred’s son, who was accused of illegal retaliation and discrimination.
“That’s employment litigation. There were a lot of charges there. Jeff denies them vigorously,” Selig said. “I think in this particular case they’re going to court, and we’re just going to have to see how it plays out.”
Selig refused to discuss the situation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, facing criticism for his handling of a domestic violence case against one of the league’s players.
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