I’ve rooted for painfully bad and mediocre sports teams for the majority of my life, and while each team routinely flirts with my empty threats of quitting, I’ve never made the leap. Somehow a player, general manager or owner will do something redeeming that keeps me tuning into games and paying for a new hat or jersey.
Over the course of my life the New York Mets and the Buffalo Bills have been very bad for the majority, but there’s a pride about rooting for a bad team that can transform into a self-deprecating arrogance. You become accustomed to the losses, and complaining or getting worked up about them is rarely worth your time. I try to stay optimistic, sometimes I even let myself imagine basking in the glow of a championship. However the New York Mets ownership has officially sucked every ounce of optimism out of my black pessimistic soul.
To speak of Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz without using all my favorite expletives repeatedly is extremely difficult, but I’ll give it a try. Wilpon was a close friend of Bernie Madoff, the biggest fraud in United States financial history. When the ponzi scheme was discovered and billions of dollars vanished into thin air, Fred Wilpon and the New York Mets were put in a tight position. When Irving Picard, the man put in charge of finding the missing money, noticed Wilpon’s returns over the years were significantly higher than others he filed a lawsuit against Mets ownership for tens of millions.
That alone would be reason enough to be angry at your ownership. Hell, even his friend Madoff said Wilpon was too stupid to know anything was going on. Nevertheless this was just the tip of an iceberg filled with dynamite. Soon the Mets debt woes came to light, and the team was exposed for taking loans from the MLB and New York City banks. The team’s budget was cut dramatically and they began seeking new minority ownership. Hedge-fund manager David Einhorn answered the call, but after months of negotiations the deal fell apart.
Earlier this month the news surfaced that the Mets fell another $70 million in debt over the course of last season, and they failed to even offer star shortstop Jose Reyes a new contract. Now the ownership of this once proud organization has gone from desperate to pathetically desperate. Wilpon is now searching for 10 or so obnoxiously rich baseball fans for $20 million each in return for a 4 percent non-controlling interest in the Mets organization.
Today, the New York Times pointed out some of the hilarious perks that perspective owners get for their money. Owners are given access to the venerable mascot Mr. Met (whatever that means), business cards that say “owner” and a chance to play on the field during “Owner’s Workout Day.” For $20 million smackerroos Mets ownership will even go as far as offering your own free parking spot!
Sweet deal huh! Business cards you can make at Kinkos and a creepy mascot hanging around your kids’ birthday parties? I honestly cannot think of a worse way to spend $20 million.