Dear Fred Wilpon, Please Take You and Your Debts out of the New York Mets

Michael Ielpi@ielpiCorrespondent IMay 23, 2011

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Owner Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets addresses the media during spring training at Tradition Field on February 17, 2011 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Many writers for the New York Mets never seem to leave their posts as this is a job that rarely has a dull moment. 

How can you blame them? Just when you think this team hits rock bottom, the Mets organization from top to bottom finds a way to get even lower. Today, The New Yorker magazine published this article written in April by Jeffrey Toobin.

I decided to write a "letter" to the Mets owner:

Dear Mr. Fred Wilpon,

You gave us this team.

You built a park with green seats, a black wall and a rotunda to a player who never played for the New York franchise that has called Flushing, New York, home since 1964.

It is a nice ballpark, but any team could call Citi Field home. Met fans wanted a truly new place to call home that looked 100 percent New York Metropolitan—not cosmopolitan and retro. 

I know they were trying to make the park have a unique feel to it and they just tried too hard. It made a team that has almost 50 years of history look like a first-year expansion club.

Citi Field is nice, but it could have been even better. You said, “All the Dodger stuff—that was an error of judgment on my part”. Your park has some seats that have questionable views that you cannot see the entire field from sitting down.

The novelty of the new stadium wore off faster than that of a new car smell. The place is more than half-empty on most nights. A ballpark in its third year, no matter how poorly the team is playing, should not look as empty as Citi Field does—especially in a city with a metropolitan population of over 19 million.

The dimensions of the park—which are just cavernous—do not make a lot of sense. In left field, where Endy Chavez made the greatest catch in franchise history at Shea Stadium in 2006, now has a 16-foot wall and that truly special moment of robbing a home run can never been felt again.

Here is the difference between you and the late Mr. Steinbrenner: George would just go out and pay for someone else; you do not have that luxury because you, sir, are broke and under your ownership, the Mets do not have a world championship. The Steinbrenner family has seven rings as Yankee owners.

If you did not think David Wright is a superstar, then you should have dealt him while there were others in baseball who believe he was. Now, he has an injured back and his return is completely uncertain. David Wright may or may not be a superstar, but he is the biggest face the franchise has had since the days of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

There may be things that Wright is not, but one thing he has always been is classy with the media and the fans. His owner could sure take a lesson from his five-time All-Star third baseman.

All Carlos Beltran did for this club was win three Gold Gloves, have three seasons of over 110 RBI, hit over 100 home runs and three postseason homers on top of that.

But hey, the Mets certainly got more out of some blockbuster signings like Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. It was not Carlos Beltran’s fault that the bullpen that was—I’ll use your word—“s---ty."

You had your general manager at the time, Omar Minaya, figuratively throw a newspaper reporter, Adam Rubin, under the bus, during the embarrassing Tony Bernazard fight fiasco.

You chose to fire Willie Randolph after you flew him out to Los Angeles after a win in the middle of the night to try and avoid getting the story on the back page of the papers.

You are the one paying Bobby Bonilla until the year 2035.

It was you who paid a pitcher $36 million for three seasons right after a season where his ERA was over four, he led the league in walks with 105, his career WHIP was over 1.4 and he was known for not being a mentally tough pitcher.

You, sir, are the one who needed a loan from Major League Baseball to put towards operating costs.

You sunk your finances into the largest known Ponzi scheme of all time. Whether you knew about Bernard Madoff’s scheme is still up for speculation. You are the one being sued in the lawsuit of your life to try to hold onto your personal wealth.

Your fans or what is left of the once most popular fan base in New York is dwindling.

You became a 50 percent co-owner of the New York Mets in 1986. After the 1986 World Series title, the Met franchise has been known for heartbreak on the field and turmoil off of it. We remember the on-the-field misfortunes about as easily as our weddings, births of children, graduations, etc.

Here is the actual on-the-field history of the last 25 years as co-owner or owner of the Mets:

On Friday night, September 11, 1987, in a crucial three-game series at home against the Cardinals, the Mets took a 4-1 lead into the ninth inning, and Roger McDowell would blow the save by giving up a home run to Terry Pendelton with two outs. In the 10th inning, Jesse Orosco gave up two runs and the Mets would lose 6-4, but more importantly, the Cardinals had breathing room in the division and the Mets would end the season out of the playoffs.

In 1988, the Mets ran away with the Eastern Division and won 100 games that season. In the National League Championship Series, the Mets faced the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Mets beat the Dodgers 10 out of 11 times in the regular season. But in the series, the Dodgers pulled off the stunning upset in seven games.

In 1989 and 1990, the Mets would finish second, but the magic of the '80s was gone as star players were either getting older or falling into problems with substance abuse.

The Mets would not have another winning season until 1997. In 1998, the Mets were in the hunt for the Wild Card with five games to play. The Mets would have two home games with the Montreal Expos and three on the road in Atlanta.

The Mets would drop both games to the Expos, who only won 65 on the season, and then at Turner Field—the Mets' personal house of horrors—the Mets were swept in a series that meant nothing to the Braves, who already clinched the Eastern Division weeks ago.

In 1999, the Mets would make good on the failure of 1998, only to come up short in the end. The team would sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates on the final weekend of the season and with a little luck, forced a tie with the Cincinnati Reds. The Mets would defeat the Reds in Cincinnati and advance to play the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Division Series.

The Mets would then get the team that dominated them since their move into the Eastern Division in 1995: the Atlanta Braves. The Braves took a 3-0 lead in the series, but the Mets fought back to win Game 4, won an epic 15-inning Game 5 on Robin Ventura’s grand-slam single to force Game 6 in Atlanta.

In Game 6, the Braves took a 5-0 lead after the first inning and after seven innings, the game would be tied 7-7. The Mets would score one in the eighth and one in the tenth, but the Braves answered with a run both times. In the bottom of the 11th inning, the Braves loaded the bases and Kenny Rogers issued a walk-off walk to Andruw Jones and the Mets were vanquished.

In 2000, the Mets made good on the failure of 1999, only to come up short in the end again. The Mets would capture the 2000 National League pennant and advance to the World Series for the first time since 1986. Unfortunately for Mets fans, their opponents were the two-time defending champion and they happened to reside in the same city: the New York Yankees.

After Armando Benitez blew the save in Game 1, the series was just about over. The Mets managed to win one game, but in the end, the team with the playoff experience and mental toughness it takes to be a champion did in the Mets in five games.

From 2001 through 2005, the Mets would not finish higher than third in the National League East. In 2006, the Mets had a season similar to that of 1986, where they would run away with the division and had the best record in the National League. The Mets would sweep the Dodgers in the Division Series and have home-field advantage against the St. Louis Cardinals in the League Championship Series. The Cardinals won just 83 games in the regular season.

But in the postseason, the Cardinals gave the Mets fits. The Cardinals took a 3-2 series lead, and after the Mets won Game 6, Game 7 was for all the marbles. In the sixth inning of a 1-1 tie, Scott Rolen crushed an Oliver Perez pitch deep to left field and somehow, Endy Chavez reached over the wall and the ball landed like a snow cone in his glove to rob the Cardinals of a 3-1 lead. Chavez would throw the ball back into the field and Jim Edmonds was doubled off.

Every Met fan now believed there was no way the team would lose the game. But, a failure to score any runs from the sixth through the eighth innings left the game tied. In the ninth inning, Yadier Molina hit a two-run home run off of Aaron Heilman and the Cardinals got their 3-1 lead.

But the Met heartache was not over that evening.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets would load the bases with two outs and noted Cardinal villain Carlos Beltran would face Adam Wainright. Wainright would just need three pitches; Beltran would not get three swings. A nasty curveball would freeze Beltran, the game was over and the Mets' best chance at a third World Series title would have to wait until next year.

Next year became the total collapse of 2007; the following year, the Mets lost two out of three at home to the Florida Marlins, when just one more win would have continued the season. The 2009 season was basically defined by a dropped game-winning pop-up by Luis Castillo against the Yankees. In the 2010 season, Jerry Manuel’s befuddling press conferences became one of the biggest highlights of the season.

If someone wrote all this as a Hollywood script, every producer would reject it because the script looks completely fabricated. 

This year, we realize we are most likely not going to the playoffs, but the team has played hard, despite injury after injury and so many call ups from AAA Buffalo.

We realize that Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and maybe even David Wright may be playing their last season in a Met uniform; they just deserve a better send-off than that of being told they are not a superstar, not 100 percent, not clutch, etc. You were nowhere close to that as an owner.  

Mr. Wilpon, you will turn 75 in November, I guarantee you are not going to get the kind of send-off you wanted.

But they have given us some good memories, although they fell short of our title-winning expectations; please let the fans tell them what they were or were not.

You may be a fan of the team, but you hold a much higher position than that. If you want to be just a fan, you can sell your majority share. If you have a problem with these men, you should sit with them in private and not with someone in the media. You came off sounding like a guy who calls a sports radio station just to complain instead of the man who is supposed to present an image of a professional baseball club.

On behalf of a still loyal New York Metropolitan baseball fan after 30 years, please sell off your professional baseball club to someone who will be a professional and return the pride to this once proud franchise.

Thank you. 


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