Archive: March 2nd, 2012

No-cred Fred and the Amazin’ Buzzkill

NOTE: This is a post by MetsToday staffer Dan Capwell, a long-time, loyal Mets fan.

Just when I started to hope again. Johan Santana’s comeback. The future with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jennry Mejia and Jeurys Familia in the rotation. A left-right-left-right-left march through the batting order with Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Ike Davis, Jason Bay and Lucas Duda. The indication that Ruben Tejada’s 2011 OBP of .360 might make him a serviceable leadoff man. The development of Kirk Niewenhuis, Jordany Valdespin and Reese Havens in Buffalo. Hell, even the passing interest in Scott Kazmir. As Ralph Kiner says every year, “hope springs eternal in the spring.” Then came Monday and the latest devaluation of the Mets brand, a.k.a another public utterance from Fred Wilpon.
In case we’ve forgotten, Fred reminded us all that he is the owner. He then made a sarcastic quip with a few five dollar bills before launching into the spin du jour. His comments have already been dissected elsewhere, but I am stunned that Fred speaks as if he believes that any of his comments will actually help his cause. Among other things, this is an insult to the intelligence of his paying customers (that’s you and me). What really got me was his attempt to shift the blame to GM Sandy Alderson for the reduced payroll.

Sorry Fred, but the blame game is over and you’ve lost. Davey Johnson, Vince Coleman, Al Harazin, Bobby Bonilla, Doc Gooden, Joe McIlvaine, injuries to Generation K, Bonilla (again), Bobby Valentine, Steve Phillips, Mo Vaughn, Art Howe, Willie Randolph, old Shea Stadium and finally Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel have come, been blamed and are gone. The one constant over the past quarter century with this team is you. Nothing you ever say again will be believed. It’s your turn to go, why don’t you just sell out and leave?
The day got even worse with the news that Jeff Wilpon, the heir apparent, attempted to “motivate” the team with Underdog t-shirts. (Look daddy, orange). Jeffie also called in a bet he won with Wright and made David wear a Michigan jersey, which while looking like just plain fun on the surface, does carry some uncomfortable connotations of seeing the so-called Face of The Franchise being humiliated by the owner’s son.

The Wilpons’ current situation is not unlike that of a great number of Americans. We lived large from about 1992 until around 2007, with a lot of paper wealth coming from real estate equity, the stock market and near total employment. These factors, plus the keep-up-with-the Joneses mentality prevalent in our society, resulted in big purchases: exurban McMansions, huge SUVs, exotic vacations and fancy gadgets. Then came the crash. Devalued real estate. Empty 401Ks. Job loss. Escalating gas prices. Many of those glittering trappings of the now-bygone age became unwanted drains on the new financial picture. Those of us who successfully readjusted found we had to shed or greatly parse these items. Others tried desperately to finance them by other means, until overextended, stressed and broke, they crashed too.

My sense is that the Wilpons are in that second grouping. Unfortunately for them, their crash is very public and one would think, extremely humiliating. I can’t blame them for thinking that a last minute reprieve will somehow make this all right again. My counsel FWIW, is that the sooner they accept and move on, the better off both they and the Mets will be.

I suspect instead that the Wilpons are very confident about being vindicated soon in court and are down in Florida laying the groundwork for a victory lap in front of the media to celebrate. Maybe Irving Picard will toss a monkey wrench into those plans. All I know is that I am back to hopelessness as far as the Mets are concerned. And that sucks enough to make me hold onto my wallet.