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Where Does the Selig-Wilpon Love Affair Come From?

By Mike Silva ~ November 6th, 2011. Filed under: New York Mets.

It’s clear that Bud Selig has no intention of addressing the reality of the Mets financial situation. Despite having an ownership team that is heavily indebted and unable to lucratively sell minority shares of the franchise, Selig continues to publically support Wilpon ownership. Unless there is an angel with a billion dollars in cash, Wilpon ownership is in its sunset. How long it takes for them to be forced to sell is anyone’s guess, but it probably will be the three year period between now and 2015.

So where did the Bud Selig-Fred Wilpon love affair start? It could be traced back to the early nineties when Selig led an ownership revolt against then commissioner Fay Vincent. Wilpon, along with Nelson Doubleday, was a Vincent supporter.

I found this blurb in a political forum called ”Debate Politics.”

The simple answer is that Wilpon and Selig are more of a buddy buddy relationship vs Selig and McCourt’s business relationship. Wilpon had been in Selig’s corner since he was made acting MLB commissioner in 1992, the Mets co-owner at the time Nelson Doubleday Jr was in the small camp of owners who did not want Selig as commissioner. Some say that Doubleday’s shares of the team were undercut so that Wilpon could become sole majority owner due to his opposition to Selig. However no evidence supports this theory.

I started to do a little research and came across this NY Times article by Claire Smith from June 11th, 1992.

One baseball executive said that the atmosphere remained tense. And, the executive said, the special session nearly took place without the National League owners because many were reluctant to participate, reinforcing the notion that the dispute between the pro-Vincent and anti-Vincent movements was pitting one league against the other. Many owners said they did not even know about the dispute until the meetings started on Tuesday, further adding to their anger.

According to one high-ranking executive, when Selig went into the National League meeting to ask the owners to meet with the American League owners to hear his explanation, a heated exchange followed.

Nelson Doubleday, the Mets’ co-owner, interrupted Selig by demanding to know if it was true the P.R.C. had tried to take away the commissioner’s best-interests clause, which empowers him to act in the best interests of baseball. When another executive volunteered it was true, Doubleday then said neither he nor any other Mets representative had any intention of participating in such a meeting. But Doubleday and his National League colleagues eventually changed their minds.

Later in the piece Smith state the following:

Still, the P.R.C. (Players Relations Committee) members proposing the change reportedly took a straw vote and it proceeded to break down along party lines, with Carl Pohlad of the Twins joining Reinsdorf and Selig. Fred Wilpon of the Mets, John McMullen of the Astros and Fred Kuhlmann of the Cardinals sided with Vincent.

At that point Fred Wilpon is labeled a staunch supporter of Fay Vincent, but was he just staying united with his co-owner who appeared to not be fond of Selig’s position in the matter.

December 19th, 1992.

Selig said he hoped to have the search committee members informed of their appointments and operating before the holiday season completely sets in. He said he could not comment on reports that the committee would consist of the 10-member executive council, plus Fred Wilpon, owner of the New York Mets, and Paul Beeston, president of the Toronto Blue Jays.

March 12th, 1994

In the book, “Lords of the Realm” (Villard Books), John Helyar, a Wall Street Journal reporter who co-wrote the best-selling “Barbarians at the Gate,” described how the league presidents, Bobby Brown and Bill White, acceded to a request by team owners to call a meeting to dismiss Commissioner Fay Vincent.

Helyar quotes Doubleday as saying to White, “‘Well, I guess the Jewboys have gotten to you,’ ” referring to Selig, the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, and Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago White Sox.

June 10th, 1994

That in itself is amazing when considering that some of the same owners who laud Selig, have now angrily and vocally opposed a Selig-led coalition that successfully ousted the commissioner, Fay Vincent, in 1992.

After each triumph, Selig talked of unprecedented unity. Such rhetoric by management officials also preceded negotiations with players in 1972, 1973, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1985 and 1990. Each of those years saw work stoppages. And capitulation by owners.

But this time, the owners swear, it’s different. Because economic meltdown is imminent for several franchises (isn’t it always, the players might counter). But also because of Selig.

Fred Wilpon of the Mets said: “It’s a talent, a great talent. Let’s give credit where credit is due. It’s wonderful what Bud has done.”

Fast forward to 2002, when Fred Wilpon sued Doubleday during their argument over the value of the Mets franchise when the Wilpons were trying to buy out Doubleday’s 50% stake:

It remains to be seen what role, if any, is played in the next few days by the allegations included in Doubleday’s 23-page reply to Wilpon’s lawsuit over his purchase of Doubleday’s 50 percent ownership of the Mets.

Doubleday, believing he was ”double-crossed” by Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig, accused them of manipulating franchise values and other economic data as part of management’s labor relations strategy.

Doubleday alleged that baseball manufactured ”phantom operating losses” and systematically undervalued franchises and that Selig began enforcing a long-dormant economic rule known as 60 / 40 to ”impose an indirect salary cap.”

What you see is a timeline of Wilpon become cozier with Selig, who eventually returned the favor of supporting his reign by helping him gain majority of the Mets.

Remember these quotes from Nelson Doubleday while on the way out?

Doubleday especially had some harsh words for Jeff Wilpon, Fred’s son, who is heavily involved in the daily operation of the franchise.

“Mr. Jeff Wilpon has decided that he’s going to learn how to run a baseball team and take over at the end of the year,” Doubleday told the newspaper. “Run for the hills, boys. I think probably all those baseball people will bail.”

In fact, Doubleday still owns box seats at Shea Stadium, but apparently does not attend games partly due to the presence of the younger Wilpon.

“Jeff sits there by himself like he’s King Tut waiting for his camel,” Doubleday told the paper. “Hump one. Hump two. They like that, two for the price of one.”

What is going on with the Mets is a classic case of politics, cronyism, and dishonesty. In the end, it’s you, the fans, that lose.

Do yourself a favor and step away from this team. I know you want to watch baseball, but buying tickets to a Mets game is saying “yes” to the Selig-Wilpon lies.

Spend the summer going to a minor league game, or if you really want to send a message, go to a Yankees game.

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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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2 Responses to Where Does the Selig-Wilpon Love Affair Come From?

  1. Piazza

    If the Mets were playing well, would you still have seen it fit to write this drivel nonsense?

    For the record, I would step foot in a steaming cowpie before I step foot in Yankee Stadium.

  2. JK

    I’ve been boycotting the team since Wilpon took over 100 % of the team, i’ll NEVER step foot in CitiField til they sell the team.

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