All right.  As suggested, I will read this before getting more bent out of shape.  But I think I’ll have the same attitude after as before.

Mid-read reactions below, as I have them:

  • “Mookie” is a nickname, not his first name.  The man was born William Hayward Wilson.
  • I’m four pages in and don’t find this article terribly fascinating at all.  He (Fred Wilpon) was poor; he blew out his arm; he made his bones in real estate with a longtime friend; he bought the Mets.  Commendable.  Quite commendable.  Not fascinating.
  • To those who say Beltran didn’t check his swing in Game Six: http://youtu.be/bhrJ-XI3F2A.  I don’t even have my glasses on, and it would’ve been a strike regardless, but it looks like a bit of a check swing to me.  I’m going to presume Wilpon has the memory burned well enough to know there was an offer there. And no, that doesn’t make Carlos Beltran any less magnificent, but how ‘bout we give that particular point a rest right now?
  • (Update: I watched the MLB.com video; a bat waggle, but no change in bat axis, really.  My bad.  I’ll leave the above as evidence that I can make a mistake and own up to it without devolving into pathos.)
  • There are plenty more awful moments to draw upon as evidence of the Mets’ poor play than Luis Castillo’s dropped pop-up, but I guess that’s the road Toobin’s about to go down. 
  • (By the way: still haven’t seen it [the dropped pop-up].  I blogged about this a few days after it happened, but I missed the game while spending time with my then-wife, heard the result over the radio that night, and after spending a weekend deep in some episodes of Lost, had too busy a week at work to watch much TV at all.  Since then, I’ve missed every occasional replay.  I’m actually rather proud of myself that I’ve never seen it, despite once screaming so loud at Castillo to use both hands to catch a ball that he gave me a dirty look.  Castillo, David Wright, Gregor Blanco: the only three baseball players ever to give me the time of day on the field. …Have I ever told the Gregor Blanco story in print?)
  • Thank God Wilpon’s said to Omar Minaya, “Omar, you’re full of shit.”  Thank God someone said it to his face.
  • Beltran IS sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was.  He’s still awesome, but he’s still sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was.  There is nothing wrong with this statement, nor anything wrong with the sentiment behind it.
  • Bernie Madoff sounds like a jackass.  Unless I blocked out all memory of a trial, I’m going to guess he’s admitted his guilt, which is why he’s in jail in the first place.  “…[I]t’s really tragic, and I feel terrible about everything he’s going through.”  Fuck you, buddy.  Every other two words out of your mouth should be “I’m sorry.”  In reference to anyone or anything.  Bilk investors out of billions?  Betray the trust of friends?  Take the last scoop of mashed potatoes?  “I’m sorry.”
  • God, I just read the next Madoff paragraph.  What an ASS.
  • Though no doubt selective to color the arc Toobin is crafting, the paragraphs on Irving Picard and his team make that guy sound like an ass, too.
  • And it ends on a bunt and a fly-out.  Of course.

Done reading.  My reaction’s the same.  I don’t give a damn about the Madoff stuff because Bernie Madoff isn’t hindering Josh Thole’s ability to get the ball out of the infield or Jason Bay’s ability to drive in runs.  I care about the Mets and a great many people in New York care about the Mets, and understand that Madoff has nothing to do with the on-field performance.

Matthew Artus for Amazin’ Avenue wraps up his coverage by stating:

” In context or not, these words are Fred Wilpon’s own. Please recall that they were uttered in the context of the Wilpons’ survival — a case that Toobin describes succinctly by saying:

…to salvage his reputation and his fortune, Wilpon must prove that he was a dupe rather than a crook.

Try to remember that distinction as you become tempted to label the Wilpons as idiots for letting this happen.”

Idiots?  Maybe not.  Short-sighted?  Certainly.

There’s no strategy that helps Wilpon with Picard’s case that includes sounding like a bastard when reviewing his players.  There isn’t.  I’m no Oliver Wendell Holmes but I know the woe-is-me approach, and one thing (the on-field performance of the Mets) has to have something to do with the other (the Fleecing of the Wilpon Millions) for it to work. 

I’m certain trustee Irving Picard only cares about Jose Reyes re-signing with the Mets if it demonstrates access to capital heretofore unrecognized—which can’t possibly be; that guy sounds like Walter Skinner, Gary from Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern, and Dean Ed Rooney rolled into one.  Either Wilpon knows that, and his comments weren’t to help him sound like a dupe, or he doesn’t know that, and they are (which would be sad), or he’s grasping for an out.  Which would be sad and not a little disturbing.

I don’t think one thing has to do with the other, in Wilpon’s mind.  I think he was genuinely frustrated, and saying things which he truly felt.  And they’re not necessarily untrue. 

Reyes may not get Carl Crawford money.  He might, but he has had a history of injury that is such that, if he hadn’t been injured he’d have greater earning potential.  How marginal that history or how much greater that earning potential will always be anyone’s guess, as there’ll be no way to quantify that.

Beltran is not the player he was.  Thirty home runs, one hundred RBIs in a season—those days may be behind him.  He might be on a pace to approach that this year; gone is the time such production is expected.  But seventy percent of Carlos Beltran is still better than one hundred percent of most other major league outfielders.  He has earned his contract by most rational measures, and several irrational ones.  But he is NOT the player he was.  The player he was had cartilage in his knees.  The man is not Superman, and it’s healthy to acknowledge that.

David Wright isn’t a superstar, by modern measures.  He is an excellent player, and certainly my favorite.  (I can tell my favorites, by the way, when I let them off the hook for sub-par play; I do this with Wright all the time, and it drives me up the wall that I do.)  David Wright will be a superstar when David Wright helps to win a World Series.  Which will happen.  Until then, he is an excellent player.

He could also become a superstar if he ever breaks the single-season home run record, wins the Triple Crown, bats over .400 for a season, or breaks DiMaggio’s hitting streak.  In baseball, you become a superstar by being absurdly superlative, or being a crucial part of a championship team.  But I don’t much care for superstars one way or the other, and if I were a betting man (on anything besides low-stakes poker), I’d wager most Mets fans just want a championship season or three.

Ike Davis… well, he said nothing to dispute about Ike.  Smooth sailing, buddy; hope to see you soon!

“Shitty team.”  Back then (late April)?  Yeah.  Right now?  Maybe.  If they remain unhealthy?  Sure.  If they don’t?  Who can say.

So he’s genuinely frustrated, and said things he truly felt, to a reporter while on the record.  That’s short-sighted.

The team isn’t performing as well as it might.  Press outlets are not as fair as they might be toward the team, its players, its fans, or its owners.  Fans of rival teams show extreme disdain and, at times, pity.  Some fans with outlets to express their feelings are over-damning, or contortionists, or apologists.  Lord.

It’s a shit deal at times to be the guy in charge and NOT be able to say what’s on your mind, but if you’re the guy in charge, that’s the deal you took.  You don’t get to blow off steam to a reporter.  That ONLY.  MAKES THINGS.  WORSE.

If Wilpon’s deciding to double-down on the histrionics of media coverage to kill the story, then he’s misguided in his approach, as one can generally only do so if the target of one’s ire is empirically better than you stated, or if one is on their way out anyway.  Neither appears to be the case.  This is thus just more soup.  The only way this has possibly helped is by deflecting any discussion of the implosion yesterday against the Yankees.

Still, as a fan I’d rather argue about poor play than daffy ownership.  Now I have to do both, or engage in neither. 

And talking baseball is important to me.  It’s important to people who spend time and money supporting a franchise.  I shouldn’t have to defend against the weakness of my team’s owner, when the difference between showing that weakness and not was simply shutting his mouth.

Tell me you don’t feel that way.  As a Mets fan, tell me you don’t wish he’d just stayed quiet.  @omniality, on Twitter.  Go for it.

Fred Wilpon came from next-to-nothing and now owns my favorite team in sport.  That required fortitude and luck and a sharpness few people have.  That toughness and serendipity and skill failed him here.  Which is a damn shame.  It implies he had more good fortune than acumen or strength to begin with.

If I’m to take a look at this article from the lens of a rags-to-riches story, then I feel sorry for a man who neither needs nor desires my pity.  Those thoughts, and others along those lines, are borderline insulting to his life’s work and presumed ethos.  But I don’t know many dupes who wouldn’t be offended by their gullibility if you presented them with it.  I know I usually am, but I don’t respond by tossing my self-respect; that invites an introspective paradox of which I want no part.

So, I’ll park this with the other media missteps, and allow myself my reaction, if that’s all right.

::ahem:: Good Lord, man.  Toobin must’ve had a notepad or digital recorder, or something.  Next time, keep your mouth SHUT.

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