Right Says Fred? Schmuck in New York Reveals Next Stage of Met's Blogger Outreach Program
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Before I weigh in on the latest Fred Wilpon-related shit storm, let me request that you wake me when Saul "LOL" Katz does a profile in a literary magazine; it is my understanding he is the brains behind the operation anyway. Or, as we now know, he has the big balls behind the organization.
First, some optimism. One take would be to ignore the bluster and outrage from the Met fanboys and girls and believe that Fred Wilpon's off-hand comments quoted in the New Yorker this week revealed not how out of touch and impolitic he can be, but the organization's commitment to blogger outreach. Fred is more sophisticated than we give him credit for, cleverly using the hated mainstream media to send blog hits into the stratosphere. Thank you Fred! Thank you!!
On the face of it, it looks like Freddy acquiesced to a participating in a largely sympathetic, positive profile that could help refurbish his image in light of the lawsuit ("I can see this team sucks and our stars have been disappointments and maybe I could have eased up on the Dodgers stuff when opening Citi"), then made the mistake of being quoted at games speaking a snide version of the truth. Jose Reyes' bizarre injury history will probably scare away the big dollars, David Wright's star has dimmed, and Carlos Beltran's contract, at least in terms of time lost to injuries, has been a disappointment. None of this, even his less than loving assessment of Beltran, is that controversial if you see it from the owner's perspective: on the field Beltran has been a revelation but injuries have made the contract much less valuable than it could have been. That is sacrilegious perspective, but pretty much true. Of course, good luck finding a Met fan that won't lay the blame on the Mets' brass, Citi field architects, medical team, and ownership for the Apple Core's disappointment.
The fan base, particularly emotional after the first ritual humiliation by the Yankees of the season, is not taking this too kindly. The more rational commentators are pissed too. Chief lobbyist Adam Rubin interprets it as a "pathetic" Wilpon taking shots at his stars summing it up thus: "Wilpon decides to mock nearly all of his top players, while comparing his team to a pile of poop." James K at AA has had it with the Mets dragging down their best players as though they were responsible for the Mess: Wilpon is a disgrace.
What is most difficult about being a critic of the Mets is that the team itself, through its various representatives, constantly outflanks those trying to make the case against them. There is almost no way to stir controversy about this team by making an outrageous, unfounded criticisms. Think Fred Wilpon is a buffoon? Here's some proof! Where is the fun in that?
The Mets seem to be on the constant look out for more egregious, embarrassing, and ponderous ways to humiliate themselves and their fans, be it essentially taking TARP money to sponsor their stadium during the most dire financial crisis of our lifetimes, accusing their critics in the media of wanting to join their organization, backing down when their "closer" who commits a violent felony in the family lounge, or searching for the biggest bus to throw their players under. The Wilpons pride themselves on their judgement of character, yet their star pitcher might be a rapist, their closer is a violent felon (did I mention that already?), their de facto banker is serving a 150 yr. sentence, their clubhouse manager seems to have been a common criminal...you get the picture.
The Wilpons can't do anything right, but when they're wrong, they make it count: even the circumstances of their firings are ignominious. In a sad, sick way, that is what makes the contemporary Mets such a fascinating study. But that doesn't make it surprising. What is really new here in the latest Wilpon blunder? What should we worry about? Well I'd say the following:
As far as the past goes, we now know that the Mets paid Carlos Beltran based on his performance with the Astros during the playoffs. First of all, this revelation, if Fred is to be believed, adds to the sheer contingency of the Mets landing the gem of the Royals; we already know that Beltran offered his services at a discount to the Yankees, who foolishly passed. Now we know not only that the Mets could (theoretically) have got Beltran for less, but that they evaluated his potential acquisition not on his remarkable performance over time but on some sensationalized playoff results.
In terms of the future, we can probably say that Fred's comments mean that it is less likely Reyes will be re-signed by the Mets. If I had to guess, it's not necessarily because Jose will feel insulted by Fred's comments and that will sway him or provoke him to go out and get "Crawford money"--players listen to the money most of the time and the Mets should have enough to pay him--but because the top of the Mets hierarchy harbors doubts about Reyes' value. You could read Fred's comments as laying the Mets cards on the table before a negotiation scenario, but I'm not feeling optimistic as I was before that Sandy Alderson's judgement would rule the day as far as Reyes' future with the Mets goes.
As CSTB notes, it is unlikely that Fred's recent bumbling will impact the Mets' ability to attract free agents in the future as long as they are willing to overpay. So maybe it is Alderson's tenure that Mets fans might want to consider when condemning the Wilpon regime. First, would Alderson's administration survive an ownership change? For many Mets fans, Sandy Alderson and his moneyball pals represents the only hope for an intelligently run organization, rebuilt and competitive, in the near future. For better or for worse, the Wilpons and this hope may be tied together. But I also wonder how Fred's comments will impact Sandy's process. In one interpretation, they may be giving him cover to make some very unpopular decisions in the near future. In another, they could be a signal to Sandy to start mentally packing his bags and escape this situation as soon as possible.
I think the Mets blargosphere should at least try to repay the Mets for all the hits our on-line diaries will get this week as fans shake their tiny fists and get OUTRAGED, so here is my modest contribution. How could LOL Katz and the Mets brass spin this article? Here is an alternative interpretation, based on some overlooked details in the New Yorker article:
*You love Mookie Wilson? So does Fred!
*You think the Mets are a shitty team? So does Fred!
*Are you cheap enough to buy senior citizen tickets to a movie when you're a millionaire? So is Fred!
*Did you share a room with your sister growing up? So did Fred!
*Confused by Japanese dining? So is Fred!
*Don't like bunting? Neither does Fred!!
You're welcome, Jay Horowitz.
Labels: lets rant about the mets brass