Anyone who has not yet read the controversial The New Yorker article surrounding the comments made by New York Mets owner must do so to get a full grasp on what and why Fred Wilpon said what he did about the Mets.
The quotes that have come into question certainly do look bad on the surface and are things that Fred Wilpon should not have said being the owner of a team. But in all honesty, they are being blown out of proportion by fans and the media and are things we have all been thinking.
- “He [Jose Reyes] thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money,” “He’s had everything wrong with him,” “He won’t get it.”
- “He’s [David Wright] pressing," “A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”
- “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him [Carlos Beltran] based on that one series,” “He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”
- “(Ike Davis is a) Good hitter…Sh-tty team—good hitter.”
- “We’re snakebitten, baby.”
For starters, these quotes are just a couple of paragraphs in a much larger, feel-good story about how Wilpon went from being a baseball fanatic and star athlete, to a door-to-door calculator salesman because of injury that killed his major league dreams, to a self-taught real estate genius and eventual owner of the Mets. It is really a terrific read that could hit home with a lot of fans who grew up in a similar situation as Wilpon and a story they can relate to.
Back to the said quotes under scrutiny.
The way these read in the article were as an honest assessment of a frustrated owner who is sick of the underachieving results on the field from one of the highest payrolls in baseball and not someone throwing his players under the bus.
The article also gives a sense that all the frustration is genuine and the only reason Fred Wilpon even said these things is because he really does truly care about the team, which a lot of fans try to portray differently (Hello Freddy Coupons).
What I intentionally left out from the quotes above because I have seen so many bloggers leave it out—including Matt Cerrone which shocked me—is that before making those comments about Reyes not getting Crawford money, he called Reyes a "racehorse". Not a huge statement, but certainly one that shows Wilpon appreciates the contributions Reyes has made to the team; he just thinks Reyes is asking for far too much money, which he probably is.
When I first read the schmuck comments, I took it as he was calling Omar Minaya the schmuck because that is how some people are portraying it, but the article clearly states "he said [schmuck], referring to himself".
As far as the Wright comments go, it may not be the best idea to call the face of your franchise "not a superstar," but David has not earned the title yet, as much as I love him. Stars are born in the regular season; superstars are born in the playoffs.
I have no idea how to take the Ike Davis "sh-tty team" comments. I can't think of one logical reason to call the product you put on the field "sh-tty," unless of course he was getting confused with the name of the stadium.
Was it a good idea to say these things? Probably not. Are these comments bad? Yes. Were they dumb things to say? Yes.
Are they nearly as bad as everyone is trying to make them out to be? No.
The comments are a PR nightmare, but they are not even near the same level as fights between George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin in my opinion. No where in this article did it sound like Fred Wilpon was trying to take shots at his players in a nasty way; he was just saying what was on his mind—something any good New Yorker does.
My biggest fears are that these comments will have some bad effect on the trade markets for Reyes and Beltran or that potential free agents are going to shy away from the Mets because they will see this and feel the Mets have an owner who throws his players under the bus. I don't agree with that assessment, but the national media has a lot of influence and with the way stories about the Mets get bashed, any little thing could harm the team's chances.
Two things are for sure about this. No. 1: Sometimes, even when things you say are true from a business standpoint, you have to stick your foot in your mouth and Fred Wilpon just learned that the hard way; and No. 2: I wouldn't be shocked to see a change in ownership sooner rather than later.
It's easy to understand why Fred Wilpon is so frustrated with the difficult times he is going through with the billion-dollar lawsuit. But next time, Fred, just stick your foot in your mouth so we can avoid this situation altogether.