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That Sound Under the Engine is Your Imagination



By Mike Silva ~ November 5th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest, New York Mets.

You buy a used car and upon driving it home it starts to make all sorts of sounds. You are having trouble starting it, and it doesn’t seem to be of the same quality that you were promised at the dealer. You take it back, but they claim nothing is wrong. It’s you that has the problem, not the dealer. That is kind of what it is to be a Mets fans these days.

Every interview with Bud Selig, David Howard, and Fred and Jeff Wilpon results in the same corporate talking points. The fans need to take off their blue and orange sunglasses and realize the Selig and the Wilpons are “peeing on your leg and telling you it’s raining.” On one side you have a used car salesman; the other you have two individuals that have been involved in not one, but two, Ponzi schemes. The Wilpons have backtracked at every point since Bernie Madoff was arrested in December of 2008. We have gone from it not having an impact on the baseball operations, to it won’t affect payroll, to looking for minority investors, to laying off employees. Now they are putting together some elaborate minority investor plan that will pay interest. Doesn’t that sound an awful like a pyramid scheme? At one point will the mainstream media admit what is inevitable? At what point will someone stand up and demand this club is sold? What reporter and newspaper will take the plunge and tell the world the truth? Why are we going along with the scam?

The Wilpons can’t afford the New York Mets. They funded the purchase on the fantasy of Madoff profits and credit. The Mets became a big market spending team because of a Ponzi scheme. They wrote a check to build a stadium they can’t cover. It’s a matter of what will get to them first- the $500 million in loans due in 2014, $450 million borrowed against SNY, and $600 million in Citi Field debt? Tell me what business plan can make that money go away? Even if the Mets won the World Series the next three years can you honestly believe they will be profitable enough to turn it around? We know that is not going to happen, so will a contending team do it? The fan base didn’t show up in 2007, ticket brokers did, the year after they won 97 games and went to Game 7 of the NLCS. What makes you think they will come back right away after what they’ve been through the last five years?

It used to just not be cool to follow the Mets. Now you wear a Mets hat and you get associated with Madoff, incompetence, and failure. Why would any young fan subject themselves to that? With all the other entertainment options do you think kids want to live through a modern day version of the late 70s? You know the answer.

If the Mets were sold there could be hope. Look at how David Einhorn was treated at Citi Field when he was announced as the lead candidate to become a minority investor. Imagine how a new owner will be treated. He will be viewed as the guy riding in on the white horse. The guy who saved the Mets from obscurity. The guy who saved us from the scowl of Jeff Wilpon and the “George Bailey idealism” of his father. The guy who sent Saul Katz and his elaborate financial schemes packing.

Owners can come back from the dead. James Dolan was the most hated owner in all of sports just four years ago. Today, he is trying to save the NBA lockout and he brought Carmelo Anthony to New York. He isn’t loved by any means, but Knicks fans aren’t lining up outside the Garden to call for his head. He should send Fred and Jeff a thank you card for how they have helped him.

The difference is the Wilpons don’t have Cablevision money. Dolan was hated for his decision making, but he always had the capital to run the Knicks like a New York franchise. My feeling is the Wilpons would be better served running the Cyclones than a big league club, that is, if they could afford it.

All the facts are in front of us. Anyone with common sense can see the Mets are a financial house of cards. You don’t need to see their books, just look at their actions and see what happens to any American company that behaves in the same way as the Wilpons. It usually leads to that company being sold or led into bankruptcy. Do you honestly believe it will stop with employee downsizing? Don’t you see the payroll has been downsized? Don’t you see it will be downsized even more? You don’t need more than $100 million to win, but you do need it when Jason Bay and Johan Santana make up 50% of that figure.

Whatever fans are left deserve to move away from this ownership group. Have someone come in and start over in rebuilding the Mets brand. Of course, the used car salesman wants you to believe the car he sold you works; it just needs a tune up. Those sounds you hear when driving are your imagination. Everything is fine. Trust me; would I ever lie to you?

I know the answer to that question, do you?

Of course, according to Jeff Wilpon this is “none of your business.” Guess what Jeff? The fans money in their wallet is none of yours.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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4 Responses to That Sound Under the Engine is Your Imagination

  1. matthew

    Don’t most clubs lay off workers in the winter? What is non baseball staff? Hot dog vendors? What are we talking about here? I am not as worried about the payroll being lowered as you seem to be. I think the real problem here is that Omar Minaya spent a lot of $ on bad players coupled with the fact that he ravaged the farm system.
    It has been stated that the Mets can sign Jose Reyes. The problem is that going 5,6,7 years for a player that can be an injury risk is exactly what got the mets in the situation they are in right now.
    I think that Alderson has a plan to get this team back to contention and sustain that success for more than a few years. If he can do it with a lower payroll, good for him and us.
    Other than that I am not concerned with finances of the team.

  2. Brian

    Thank you for that. Those of us who smell the Wilpon rat are not numerous enough. I think we need to resign ourselves to the fact that those will get worse before it gets better. It might even make 1977-1983 look like halcyon days. Eventually the Deroulets got out and maybe the Wilpons will too. And remember, Bud Selig is retiring in 2013 so a less conflicting relationship might only be 18 to 24 months away.

    For years now I have not gone to Shea or Citi Field. My view is that you cannot separate the product on the field from those writing the checks. Many more people need to realize this instead of complaining and then buying a new ticket plan. Money is the language the Wilpons understand and taking it away from them seems to really bother them. Especially the son who never has had to want for anything. Damn, ain’t karma a bitch?

    Maybe it will end soon. Maybe it will end ugly but it is going to end. You said it in your brilliant column above. There is no cavalry and we will have to hope the carnage isn’t bad.

    On the bright side, as a guy who had watched this team since 1978, if you asked me in 1983, 1996, or 2004 if I thought contention was only a couple of years away, i would have thought you were nuts.

  3. UncleMario

    The Mets’ declining home attendance at CitiField the has declined the last two seasons. Does it have to go down to the 1979 levels (788,905) for the House of Wilpon to get the message?

  4. Stick

    I go to see the team, not the owners. And I would bet that most fans feel the same way. Not watching games because you don’t like what you have read about the Wilpons seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    There is also another question about trying to sell that I have never seen addressed. Mike pints out all the #s above 9the debt load that is the real problem). What happens to that if the team at this point is upside down? The only way some (if not all) of that goes away is through a BK.

    And if they have to go down the BK route, things will get much worse before they ever get better.

    I just am not sure that even if they wave the white flag and sell, they can get out in one piece, or that a new owner will be jacking up payroll if they are losing money on the deal. So someone is going to be losing a ton of $$ on any sell out.

    most likely right now, the banks and MLB are calling the shots. Wilpons are just doing what they are told to try and hang on.

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