There's a lot of chatter today about some choice Fred Wilpon quotes in this week's New Yorker that find the Mets owner trashing his team the way, oh, everyone else does. Seriously — he sounds like Joe from Farmingdale, dialing into WFAN an hour after last call. And damned if there isn't a part of me that thinks he's doing it on purpose.
When Carlos Beltran came up, I mentioned his prodigious post-season with the Astros in 2004, when he hit eight home runs, just before he went to the Mets as a free agent. Wilpon laughed, not happily. "We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series," he said, referring to himself. In the course of playing out his seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets, Beltran, too, has been hobbled by injuries. "He's sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was." Beltran singled, loading the bases with one out.
Ike Davis, the sophomore first baseman and the one pleasant surprise for the Mets so far this season, was up next. "Good hitter," Wilpon said. "Shitty team—good hitter." Davis struck out. Angel Pagan flied out to right, ending the Mets' threat. "Lousy clubs—that's what happens." Wilpon sighed. The Astros put three runs on the board in the top of the second.
"We're snakebitten, baby," Wilpon said.
(And then he hung up and listened.)
The profile centers on Wilpon's possibly tortious relationship with Bernie Madoff (who we learn is now working in the prison commissary, no doubt pushing various exciting high-yield investment programs in toothbrushes and ramen noodles). You might remember that Wilpon and his partners are being sued by a bankruptcy trustee overseeing the recovery of funds lost in Madoff's Ponzi scheme; the trustee alleges that Wilpon, et al, "willfully turned a blind eye to every objective indicia of fraud before them," leaving Wilpon with no choice but to argue that, as Jeffrey Toobin writes, "he was a dupe rather than a crook."
Call me a cynic, but it's hard not to read his sour assessment of his team in that light. How could I be a schemer when my team sucks so hard? he seems to be arguing sotto voce. He acknowledges so much incompetence ("All the Dodger stuff—that was an error of judgment on my part," he says of the Ebbets/Brooklyn Dodger porn at Citi Field) that you almost forget his franchise more than doubled in value between 1986 and 2002. Instead, everything he says carries the implication that he's an inattentive businessman mindlessly throwing good money after bad. There's probably some truth to that. I just wonder how Mets fans feel to have their crushed hopes show up as Exhibit A for the defense.
Madoff's Curveball [New Yorker]