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Does New York Mets Owner Fred Wilpon Owe Fans An Apology?

Submitted by on May 27, 2011 – 8:00 am2 Comments

As a lifelong New York Mets fan, I’m absolutely bewildered—yes, bewildered—at the recent New Yorker piece on Metropolitans owner Fred Wilpon. Not because he takes shots at several of the team’s best players—secretly, I’m sure a lot of team owners hate some of the guys that play for their team—but because he did it without any rhyme, reason or provocation.

If you haven’t heard yet, Wilpon—who is currently tied up in a legal battle with a bunch of the folks who got ripped off by Bernie Madoff—spoke with The New Yorker recently about a number of things, mostly about his rise from rags to riches and what it took for him to land a majority stake in a Major League Baseball team in New York City. However, somewhere along the way, Wilpon starts shooting his mouth off and brazenly lands some ridiculously mean-spirited shots on three of the team’s marquee players—Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and David Wright.

Of Reyes, who is a free agent after this season, he said: “He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money,” referring to the seven-year, $142 million contract Crawford signed in the offseason with the Boston Red Sox. “He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it.”

Of Beltran, who signed a huge contract with the Mets after he enjoyed a big postseason with the Houston Astros in 2004, he said: “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series. He’s sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was.”

And of Wright, who has been the face of the Mets’ franchise since joining the team back in 2004, he said: “Really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”

Ouch, ouch, and ouch. So far, only Wright has responded and—as you’d expect the face of the franchise to do—he took the high road when asked about Wilpon’s comments. “Fred is a good man and is obviously going through some difficult times,” he said earlier this week. “There is nothing more productive I can say at this time.”

Wilpon also spoke, albeit privately this time, to each of the three players. He apologized to Reyes and Beltran via speakerphone before the Mets played the Chicago Cubs this week in the Windy City. And he also called Wright personally to apologize. But, here’s my question: Where’s an apology to the fans of the Mets?

For years now, the Mets have underachieved. I know most Mets fans probably wouldn’t agree with me, but that hasn’t upset me as much as this recent incident does. Underachieving can be fixed—and the team can, at the very least, make an effort to solve the problems it’s had in the past by signing new players, trading old ones and making personnel moves. However, as a Mets fan, I can’t stand to think Jose Reyes might not sign with the Mets now in the offseason because of this boneheaded move by Wilpon. I can’t stand to think Beltran will probably look back and laugh at the team when he eventually gets traded away to a contender, as most people believe he will. And I certainly can’t stand to think Wright feels underappreciated right now on a team that needs him to get back into the lineup (he’s currently dealing with a back injury) and carry them for the next few years.

Wilpon has royally screwed over the loyal Mets out there—myself included—who devote themselves to the team every year and get very little in return. We spend money on tickets, fork over cash for crap from the team store (shout out to the 50 bucks I spent on two shirts at a Mets game recently), and, most importantly, invest our time into a team who doesn’t seem to be headed in the right direction.

The problems Wilpon is facing in the Bernie Madoff case are bad enough right now. They’re resulting in limited funds for the Mets organization and preventing the team from fielding a squad that can consistently contend for a pennant. But when you add this latest transgression on top of all of that, I have to wonder if it’s even worth following the team this year. Or next year. Or the year after that. If I’m an MLB player right now, I’m not coming to New York to play for any team other than the Yankees. And if I’m a Met already, I’m second-guessing every move the Mets make.

It’s a real shame, but this single New Yorker incident has cast a large shadow of doubt over the franchise for the foreseeable future. And the least Fred Wilpon can do right now is tell the fan base he’s sorry for what he’s said. It’d be the first step in repairing the fragile relationship between the Mets and their fans right now. If you can even call it that anymore…

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