The Buck Stops Here

By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper

In case you are a Mets fan who is a) living under a rock or b) not on Twitter for whatever reason, chances are you may have missed the headlines this morning, on what should have been by all accounts a quiet off-day for the Mets.

A friend of mine emailed me this morning and said that I couldn’t have issued my Scapegoating piece on Carlos Beltran at a better time, since it’s evident that along with that vocal minority who scapegoats Beltran for every little thing gone wrong, Fred Wilpon does it too.

Now, let me backtrack a little.  If you listen to our weekly podcast, I’ve tried to present a fair perspective for the Wilpon ownership group, regarding their lawsuit brought on by Irving Picard, and how they are portrayed.  Now, especially Fred, I have deemed him a tragic hero, a guy who trusts too many of the wrong people and has worked hard most of his life, but at the same time is a charitable man who tries to do right.

This much is evident in Jeffrey Toobin’s piece in the New Yorker today, called “Madoff’s Curveball.”

But what really got me, besides Wilpon’s ascent to riches from rags is the idea that he’s a Mets fan, that he lives and dies by every pitch.  Okay, yeah, I get that.  Along with his “miscalculation” (ya think???) on the overdoing of the Brooklyn Dodger nostalgia, he owns the Mets so of course he’s going to have a vested interest in them doing well.

But by him throwing his team’s best players under the bus isn’t going to net him much sympathy.  In fact, he just comes across as one of those whiny desperate-for-attention brats on Twitter who hash tag Fire Sandy Alderson and the like.  I mean, can we fault Fred for not keeping his true feelings/frustrations under wrap?  Not really.

Okay, so here are the bulk of the quotes that we’d want to pay attention to (hat tip to Metsblog for condensing this early this morning so I could get the idea of what I was up against today).

Jose Reyes:  “He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money…He’s had everything wrong with him.  He won’t get it.”

David Wright:  “He’s pressing…A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”

Carlos Beltran:  “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series…He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”  (editor’s note: this was also after he made a gesture referring to him taking strike three in 2006 – yet another scapegoating defense mechanism).

Ike Davis:  “Shitty team—good hitter.”

Lastly, my personal favorite is about the team: “We’re snakebitten, baby!”

To which I ask…who’s f’ing fault is THAT, Fred?  Let’s examine some of the evidence here, okay?

Okay, so let’s get to the Carlos Beltran comment first.  I like how he has this mock self-deprecating humor about it “This schmuck” is clearly referring to himself.  But let’s look at the extensions of himself at that time.  Omar Minaya – a high-priced scout with terrible communication skills, who presided over a culture of undermining authority in the clubhouse during his tenure.  But look at what Fred does here: he pretty much undermines what Beltran had done in his time here.  In fact, if this season is any indication, Beltran is maybe 85% of his old self (yeah, I went there).  And let’s not discuss that we were in a position to need Beltran, not want, because of stupid decisions that occurred under Wilpon’s watch.

It’s like, he’s personally undermining Beltran to the extent that he’ll want to leave the team at the trade deadline.  Sounds a bit like this generation’s Dick Young is an inside job.  Will he personally drive Carlos to the airport when he’s gone at the deadline?

Next I’m going to address David Wright.  Not a “superstar,” huh Fred?  Well, I’ll tell you what: I know what David Wright’s limitations are, and the Mets have done a craptastic job of giving Wright the supporting cast he needs.  Leader? Hell, no.  Superstar?  Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure we’d have to take back all those starting All-Star Games honors and Gold Gloves and what else?  Oh yeah, all the marketing promotions, posters and namesakes of Wright’s at the stadium.  What, Fred, he’s no Duke Snider?  Sorry to burst your bubble.  I know marketing/communications isn’t exactly your thing, but David Wright has been marketed as the “Face of the Franchise” (which I completely disagree with, as you’ll hear on our podcast…but we’re not talking about me.  We’re talking about the guy who pays him and he represents the team brand).

Next is Jose Reyes.  I’m just going to say that while I think Carl Crawford’s contract was crazy, the fact is, Fred Wilpon proves himself to be a misinformed crotchety old man by saying “He won’t get that money.”  Seriously, you think that?  Oh, right, he just meant that the METS won’t be ponying up that money for him.  It suggests to me that Wilpon is not only delusional, he really doesn’t understand how a large market team is supposed to operate.  It’s not every day a superstar (which Reyes actually IS) falls under your control.  He better appreciate what he’s got or it will be like Grant’s Tomb in the 1970s again at CitiField once Reyes is gone.

Lastly, the last two quotes above are in succession, about Ike Davis being a good hitter (which he is, no question) and the team being “shitty” and “snakebit.”

You all know how I feel about the snakebitten part.  Fred, I’ll say this: in the last few years, there has been a lack of accountability in the Mets front office.  This extended down into the dugout and into the daily performance of the team.

Isn’t snakebitten saying “We’re cursed?”  Yeah, well I have news for him.  There are no cursed teams, Mr. Wilpon: Just BAD teams.

Now, this story is a very good read.  Now, I will say that to the extent of Wilpon’s lawsuits and his trusting of the wrong people, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  I feel bad for him.  But to have him sounds as misinformed as some of the vocal minority in the Metsopotamia twitterverse and blogosphere, I think the Mets are in worse trouble than we thought.

So in this article, we hear about Sterling Equities rise from modest beginnings to becoming a focal point in business in the New York metro area.  But we also see a side to Wilpon: yes, he’s a fan like us, but he’s also got his head up his ass as to what is best for the team.

Kinda troubling for the guy who writes the checks.  You know the old saying, when you point one finger, there are two pointing back at you?  That’s pretty much it.

Taryn M. Cooper

6 responses to “The Buck Stops Here

  1. Mrs Dawg and I were discussing this article tonight…Got me off on a bunch of tangents, but here’s the long and short of our discussion.

    1)Better hope to hell they’re beefing up the farm system, who’s gonna want to sign as a free agent with the Mets knowing that the first time they get injured, the ownership is going to be busrolling them.

    2)At the end of the day, Freddie Wilpon isn’t out there playing the games. Lord knows the front office staff has made some bad decisions, and they were on his watch. Players gotta play, they don’t produce, they get run out of town, eos.

  2. Mrs Dawg said it best, when it comes to somebody like Madoff, too many of the victims are willfully blind. People who should have known better like the Wilpons et al, all too willingly turned a blind eye. I’m way too much of a skeptic to blindly follow the herd, when people are running in, that is inevitably my cue to run for the exits. Do I feel for guys like Tim Tuffel who through no fault of their own got taken, absolutely.

  3. Here’s the thing, luck comes and goes, If you’re a schmuck who got lucky, you’re not going to stay lucky forever. If Wilpon wasn’t sophisticated enough to do his homework (and he should have), ever question where Bernie was making his money(and he should have), something’s amiss. A good weekend in Vegas (I’m a lucky schmuck), I get a little pinch and squeal from the Mrs (I’m a lucky schmuck), if you believe Bernie and I (being Fred Wilpon) made 18 years of positive returns in both up markets and down, either I’m Jesus (JC was a Jew afterall) or I’m the luckiest son of a bitch in the world.

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