The Downward Spiral of Fred Wilpon


I could sit here and open with “Hey, the Mets used to be great and have such a storied blah blah Tom Seaver blah blah 1986.”  Then I could transition into the bleak contrast of having their owner slap them upside the feelings with a disgusted rant.  Or I could just describe that sort of introduction to an article and be all slick and meta until enough words filled up the page to qualify as an “opening paragraph.”

Look, I’ve all but given up on objectivity in baseball.  I love that Shane Victorino is a slippery witch doctor out there, concocting nefarious schemes on the base paths and always seeming like he’s one twitch shy of full blown mania.  But for his cocky frat boy demeanor of similar ill repute, I would like Nick Swisher to be under a truck.  Two guys with negative personality quirks, but because one wears a Phillies uniform I give him a wink.

So when I read this story about Fred Wilpon calling the Mets “shitty,” and doing an impression of Carlos Beltran striking out, and saying David Wright will never be a superstar, I am also chuckling at the concept of an owner openly insulting/giving up on his team, and that the team in question is the Mets.

Of course, now I sit here and kind of want to give Fred a hug.  Except this time, not just to distract him while the Phanatic sets his car on fire.

And yet, now is when this matter needs to be looked at objectively more than ever before.  There’s an owner out there who not only is burnt out on his club, but has a history chock full of shady dealings and unfortunate trades.  For those of us who find ourselves incapable of little more than laughter and poorly-Photo Shopped images, perhaps it is time to consult the front lines of this disaster and see just how the Mets’ collective downward, flaming spiral is victimizing their fans.

An old college friend of mine is the only Mets fan I know personally.  By now I’ve expected him to be pretty much dead inside, but instead he’s just pissed off a lot.  The last time we spoke in person I said some kind of needlessly antagonistic remark that set him off on a rant that stretched all the way back to the Mo Vaughn signing.  That’s like reaching down your throat until you can touch the floor behind you.

Even in most of our teams’ darkest hours, we weren’t faced with this kind of crap.  There may be selfish indifference on the part of an owner; or maybe they’re treating their team as a petri dish for talent, allowing it to spawn so they may immediately sell the results for cash.

And while Fred may have a point or two in describing the team as “cursed,” that doesn’t give him the excuse to become a villain.  Now, instead of even just sitting at the top of a disaster, he’s pro actively campaigning against it.  How are the players supposed to react to this?  How are the fans supposed to feel obligated enough to buy a ticket?  How are those of us with “Ya Gotta Bereave” t-shirts supposed to wear them in public without feeling like we’re dragging a dead horse into Flushing and beating it in the middle of a crowded intersection?

When is this age of Mets baseball supposed to reach its end?  Even this year, analysts were giving their fans hope, claiming that with the acquisition of Cliff Lee, the Phillies were putting all of their eggs in the pitching basket, and in a year or two, the younger, faster Mets would be able to go toe-to-toe with them.  Now, you look across the blogosphere and see everything from crushed defeat to panicked confusion to spot-on movie references.

"I am ashamed to be a New York Mets fan and I am extremely frustrated with the Wilpon family.–Steven Hirsch, Huffington PostIt’s great that Wilpon felt it necessary to talk to Toobin about his story, something in my opinion we don’t hear enough from the owners in sports. However, I can’t help but look at this and go, “what??”–Michael Rosenbloom, Rising AppleFred, we play in a stadium that has absurdly high and faraway walls, and those walls have to be attacked by men with bats. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Jeff Wilpon? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Ike Davis, and you curse the Mets. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Beltran’s strikeout, while tragic, did not start a curse. And my existence, while only very good to you, saves wins.You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about in the Caesar’s Club, you want me at the plate, you need me at the plate. We use stats like OPS, WAR and UZR. We use these stats as the backbone of a life spent playing baseball. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very success that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a bat, and step up to plate. Either way, I don’t give a damn who you think is a superstar.–“David Wright as Colonel Jessup,” Commenter on Amazin’ Avenue"

Now is the last time when you would assume new faces would be trying to attach themselves to the franchise, but Wilpon revealed in a recent interview that not only would he be probably settling the $1 billion lawsuit from a Madoff trustee, but there’s a solid chance a minority stake in the team would be sold within three weeks.  Granted, he never mentioned who it could be, but I can say with some confidence that its probably not just Fred Wilpon with a fake mustache.

It feels alien typing these words in defense of Mets fans.  I’m sure I’ll probably regret it some day.  Possibly even later today. But you reach a point when fandom, rivalries, and emotional responses have to be pushed aside (for myself, that’s a point I don’t reach often) in favor of changing the batteries.  Maybe I don’t want the Mets to do well, but I want them to be able to do well (if only because then they won’t have excuses to fall back on).  If that makes sense (It doesn’t).  And it doesn’t take an educated analyst to point out that that probably doesn’t happen with a mad king on the throne.

Sandy Alderson stepped in, saying that nobody is a more passionate Mets than Fred, and that ‘We all get caught up in the emotion from time to time, and perhaps say some things that upon reflection probably were not well-chosen.'”

Yes, we do.  Because we’re fans of teams.  And sometimes, we’re a tad insane about baseball.

But I would never put one of us in charge of an organization, because this is exactly what would happen. If I’m the fiery owner of the Phillies and they have a season like the Mets have had–even just since the ’07 collapse–I would have gone on a personal, unfair, highly judgmental and probably intoxicated rant years ago.  That’s why I’m allowed nowhere near the position.  Hell, I’m not even allowed to think about it.

I’m not saying owners can’t be fans, but if they are, they need to be the kind of fans who aren’t like me, who are able to keep from being emotionally compromised in public, especially in front of a microphone.

In the mean time, we’ll just have to agree with Fred’s own son, as he echoes the mindset of Mets fans across the galaxy who collectively facepalm at the words of their owner.

"“I’d like to be talking about baseball, not about any of this.”–Jeff Wilpon"