Archive: January 31st, 2011

Reactions To News That Mets Are For Sale


Mets For Sale

So much for the conspiracy “theory” — as it turns out, the Madoff scandal did and does affect the Wilpons and the New York Mets in particular, despite countless denials to the contrary.

From last week’s press release:

As Sterling Equities announced in December, we are engaged in discussions to settle a lawsuit brought against us and other Sterling partners and members of our families by the Trustee in the Madoff bankruptcy. We are not permitted to comment on these confidential negotiations while they are ongoing.

However, to address the air of uncertainty created by this lawsuit, and to provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win, we are looking at a number of potential options including the addition of one or more strategic partners.

I’ve always enjoyed the Mets’ strategy of releasing bad news on a Friday, whenever possible, so that the media pickup is somewhat lessened. They’ve done it consistently with player injuries, arrests, suspensions, and firings, for example.

Another consistency regarding news out of Flushing: telling us things are fine, when they aren’t — a theme that ran repeatedly with the player injuries of 2009 and 2010.

I was going to write my own, original response to this latest situation, but someone already published a piece that pretty much sums up my thoughts, so why reinvent the wheel? See Barstool Sports NYC. That site could be considered NSFW and has some foul language, so I’ll give you snippets of the best parts.

But mark my words, this is the beginning of the end for the Wilpons owning the Mets. For 3 reasons – 1. This is how the Mets … operate. How many years have we heard about a Carlos Beltran “strain” and 6 weeks later we find out he needs season ending surgery? How many times have we seen Reyes as “day-to-day” and it turns out to be like 90 … days? This is what they do. The come in real low in an effort to keep everyone calm and as time goes on you realize just how (bad) of a situation they are in and all the sudden its a full blown disaster. So all this “just looking for financial partners” and what not is the tip of the iceberg. 1 year ago the Wilpons promised Madoff wasn’t an issue at all. Now its somewhat of an issue. And in another year we’ll find out it they’re completely broke.

Pretty much how I see it, too. But there’s more good stuff from Barstool:

2. The fact that they announced this without a bidder lined up means this Madoff lawsuit is 150 times worse than they ever expected. Seems like they were sucker punched by the potential severity of this suit. This is a New York baseball franchise. Top 3 profitable franchise in all of baseball. And they are basically putting out an open casting call for financial partners? Thats like the kinda (stuff) I do on Barstool. Put up a picture of a chick and ask the Stoolies to find her. Just announcing you are now open to whoring yourself out without any prospective partners already lined up is … desperate. It’s like online dating. The Mets are … J-Dating right now.

Barstool sums up the Wilpon ownership era thusly:

I’ve always maintained this team will never win a World Series under the Wilpons management. Too incompetent, too timid. Always willing to go three quarters of the way, but never willing to go the distance. The Mets will always be stuck in no man’s land with the Wilpons – Never rebuilding, but never winning. That’s New York Mets baseball under Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

I agree with most of these points. In particular, that this recent news is only the tip of the iceberg; there will be much, much more as this lawsuit drags on.

By the way, in case you missed it, we had an interesting discussion in a comments thread from December 8, 2010, where we suspected “something big” regarding the Madoff situation was going to come out eventually.


15 DUPACR: Jerry Grote

Loyal readers of MetsToday know that I’m a catcher. Do you know why I’m a catcher? Because when I first became aware of baseball (thanks to WOR and WPIX), in the mid-1970s, my two favorite players were Thurman Munson and Jerry Grote — both catchers, both wore #15. Therefore, since there are 15 Days Until Pitchers And Catchers Report, we honor Jerry Grote.

Contemporary Mets fans most closely associate the number fifteen with Carlos Beltran, and that’s fine. To me, #15 on Beltran’s back is weird; it’s like seeing a single-digit number on a pitcher’s uniform, or #99 on a quarterback’s jersey. Because the number 15 (and 5, for that matter) is supposed to be a catcher’s number — but that’s my issue.

How did Jerry Grote grab my attention in my formative years? Because he was a bad ass (or a red ass, as some of his employers and teammates described him). His nasty character begins with his name — pronounced “grow-tee” — which sounds like the short name for grotesque, or gross. You didn’t need to meet him to know he was mean, you need only look at his baseball card — his grimace and threatening eyes burned through you. Grote was the catchers’ catcher, a throwback to another time. He caught with two hands, sans helmet, in a dirty uniform and with a menacing aggression.

John Strubel wrote a fitting, accurate profile of Grote earlier this winter; here is a snippet:

Grote’s desire to win led to unparalleled intensity on the field. During his 12-year career in New York, teammates labeled Grote surly, irascible, testy and moody. Then, there’s Koosman’s description: “If you looked up red-ass the dictionary, his picture would be in there. Jerry was the guy you wanted on your side, because he’d fight you tooth and nail ‘til death to win a ball game.”

Grote played with an anger and intensity that was, at times, intimidating to opponents, umpires, the media and teammates alike.

“When I came up I was scared to death of him,” said Jon Matlack, winner of the 1972 Rookie of the Year award. “If you bounced a curveball in the dirt, he’d get mad. I worried about him more than the hitter.”

Jerry Grote he had no fear, took crap from no one, and poured every last ounce of himself onto the field. Looking back at them now, his offensive numbers look underwhelming, but for the era his hitting was acceptable considering what he provided behind the plate. His first priority and main value was his ability to absolutely control the defense, call a ballgame, and properly handle a pitching staff — and his accurate, shotgun arm was lethal to would-be basestealers. In his heyday, he threw out 45-50% of basestealers and prevented many from taking off — important in the pitching-dominant NL in the late 1960s. Even into his early to mid-thirties, when his battered body was older than his age, he was able to gun down 30-35% of baserunners — which was still about average for the time.

How great was Grote behind the plate? Ask Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan, both of whom included Grote in their Hall of Fame induction speeches. Intangibles may be immeasurable, but they can also be invaluable.

To this day, when I squat my creaking knees behind the dish, I channel my inner Grote — the ultimate bad ass.

Other #15s who you may remember include Claudell Washington, George Foster, Al Jackson, Rick Aguilera, Jose Vizcaino, Matt Franco, and Ron Darling (when he wasn’t wearing #12 or #44). Which #15 do you remember, and why? Post in the comments.

The countdown thus far:

#15 Jerry Grote
#16 Dwight Gooden
#17 Felix Millan
#18 Darryl Strawberry
#19 Anthony Young
#20 Howard Johnson
#21 Gary Rajsich
#22 Ray Knight
#23 Doug Flynn
#24 Kelvin Torve
#25 Willie Montanez (no link … sadly, didn’t have time to write a post)
#26 Dave Kingman
#27 Pete Harnisch
#28 John Milner
#29 Alex Trevino
#30 Jackson Todd