So now we have three stories from Fred Wilpon:
1. Letting Jose Reyes walk was a “baseball decision”
2. The reduced payroll was the result of cutting “underperforming assets”
3. Cutting payroll has nothing to do with the Mets’ financial troubles — it was all Sandy Alderson’s idea.
Hmm … so in other words, Sandy is the fall guy. Sandy is the one who decided that offering Jose Reyes a contract would be a bad idea. Sandy might even believe Reyes was one of those players who wasn’t fulfilling his contract, for all we know. Sandy is also the one who has tightened the purse-strings, and believes low payroll is the best plan for a NYC team. Yes, this cut in spending is all in the name of advancement: “spend less for success” may be emblazoned on a paperweight on Alderson’s desk, for all we know.
Right, said Fred.
At this point, I don’t know what to make of Fred Wilpon. His comments in the SI and New Yorker articles last spring were difficult to understand in terms of motivation. Many, though, gave him a pass, figuring he was just an old fogey who didn’t realize he was being fleeced by an over-enthusiastic journalist. But Wilpon’s more recent comments and actions leave little room for empathy.
I was going to write my feelings on this, but then realized that Mike Vaccaro already expressed pretty much what I — and many other Mets fans — are feeling. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I chose to re-post pieces of his story, in case you missed it:
Mets fans can appreciate a good sense of humor, even with times as dire as they are.
They don’t appreciate being made fools of, though.
“I’m OK,” Fred Wilpon said yesterday, upon greeting an assemblage of news media. “I’ve got fives!”
He pulled out a roll of $5 bills. Showed them to reporters.
If nothing else, the Mets should have the common sense and the common decency to realize their fans are not idiots, that if there are real financial concerns hanging like a millstone around the Wilpons’ necks — and no matter how much Fifth Avenue Freddie tries to spin it, every few minutes, it seems, another bill for another few million comes due — then it is particularly stupid to taunt their customers so blithely, and so blindly.
And here’s the thing: Fifth Avenue Freddie knows that you know. He no longer plays the part of the benign, avuncular, absent-minded professor, shrugging his shoulders and sloughing off questions about the way Mets fans perceive him. He knows. You’d better believe he knows.
“They shouldn’t be concerned about us owning the franchise, because we intend to own the franchise for a very long time,” Wilpon said. “Whether they’re happy about that or not, I don’t know.”
Yes, he does. Of course he does. He knows what the people back home think of him, and his family, and the way they have continuously misinformed the world about how deep their financial woes run. Remember when the Wilpons not only dismissed the notion the Madoff scandal would affect the Mets’ business, they also dismissed the very questions themselves?
That was $52 million worth of payroll ago.
“We weren’t being sued then,” Wilpon said.
Maybe not. But everything about the way the Mets were operating then was based upon Madoff and his funny money. At the least, the Mets knew that much, even if Fifth Avenue Freddie wants you to believe he’s been dumber than Mortimer Snerd through this whole process.
And here’s the pity: We should be allowed to feel bad for what’s become of Fred Wilpon. Basic human compassion should be at work here. And would be. But Wilpon continues to wave the Mets as a stick at fed-up fans. And now doesn’t mind sharing a giggle or three at their expense.
What a joke.
And not the funny kind.
That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Fred Wilpon has managed to turn himself into an unlikeable figure. I’m not sure that process is reversible.
What’s your feeling? Is Vaccaro being too hard on Fred? Do you have a different perspective? Air it out in the comments.