On Friday, we learned that the Mets had received $25 million in funding from Bud Selig's secret piggybank, on top of $75 million they'd already borrowed from Major League Baseball. Surely this meant the Wilpon family would finally have to explore selling the team. Or at the very least turn themselves into a sort of Royals-on-the-East River.
Now, raise your hand if you had "get more loans" as a thing the Mets would do. Because that is exactly what they are doing! I know finance can be tricky to understand, so let me phrase this nautically: the ship's spiraling down the maelstrom—and its owners are adding ballast so it sinks more quickly.
Writes the New York Post:
JPMorgan Chase — which led the banks that loaned the team about $430 million last year — is trying to recruit other institutions to join a syndicate to put together a new loan that would tide the Mets over until they sell a minority stake in the ballclub.
A well-placed source said both the Mets and Major League Baseball are exerting strong pressure on JPMorgan to make that loan happen.
"They [JPMorgan] believe the Mets still have the capacity to borrow," a source said.
But another source said, "Are you kidding me?" when told about the loan.
This is when things have gotten really bad: when baseball/banking executives are the voice of the common man. Are you kidding us, Mets? Are you kidding us, MLB?
And are you kidding us (and your stockholders), JPMorgan Chase? Didn't Wall Street learn its lesson about buying oodles of bad debt?
Not even superstar CEO Jamie Dimon can fix the Mets, who, according to The New York Times, are headed for a massive collapse not unlike the one that hit the national economy (and the on-field Mets) in 2008.
The Times writes that the Mets have a bloated payroll ("Duh," says Charlie Sheen) and—for the first time in a while—are having real trouble moving tickets. In December, the Mets replaced Bill Ianniciello, their director of ticket sales since 1994, with Leigh Castergine. Some internet digging reveals that Castergine recently had the same position with the Boston Bruins. Plus, she graduated from Penn in 2003, making her something of a hotshot in a notoriously hotshot-unfriendly organization. (Then again, the Mets' last high-profile hotshot hire was Steve Phillips. So perhaps you can't fault them.)
Here's the NYT:
Last week, the Mets let go a handful of full-time employees in the ticket office, according to a person with direct knowledge of the staff reductions. The team also did not rehire another dozen or so part-time workers who are typically brought in to answer the phones when tickets go on sale, the person said.
So here's what's happening, sans boat metaphors: the team sucks, has an expensive new stadium it cannot afford, cannot sell tickets because fans are understandably meh about the club and the stadium, and the owners are expected to cough up perhaps a billion dollars they do not have, because they, unlike a lot of now-very-angry people, profited from one of the biggest financial frauds in history. They've borrowed all they can from the banks, all they can from the league, and now they're going back to the banks.
Meanwhile, the owners are saying they won't sell a majority stake in the team. Wise businessmen, do you want to own the Mets? Because, so far, this is what we've got.