A man shares his thoughts about the Mets during an April 20th game against the Houston Astros at Citi Field. The Mets lost, 4-3, to fall to 5-13 on the season, the franchise’s worst start since 1964. It was their ninth loss in their past 10 games and seventh straight home defeat, the unquestioned low point of the season (so far).
The guy calls the Mets “shitty,” said David Wright—who was in an 0-for-19 slump—is a “very good player” but “not a superstar,” and labeled Carlos Beltran an overpaid shell of his former self.
But this was not Tony from Astoria calling WFAN for a late-night rant. This was not an orange-and-blue-clad loudmouth in section 522. This was not even a Post columnist putting an underachieving team in its place in Thursday’s paper. This was Fred Wilpon, the owner of the New York Mets.
It’s easy to see what Wilpon’s intentions were when he agreed to give Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker access for a feature on his financial troubles: the public would be impressed by his rags-to-riches story; it would show he did care about the on-field results; he would gain sympathy regarding the Bernie Madoff situation.
On those fronts, the article was a success. But Wilpon revealed too much of his inner fan, ripping the team that just this past weekend had climbed back to .500 by beating the Yankees, a franchise whose deceased former owner made a habit of calling out his players.
|I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this photo.|
That is not to say Wilpon’s comments were out of touch. Many fans would agree with his assessments. Wright is a career .300 hitter capable of 30 home runs and 20 steals, but even if “superstar,” a subjective term, is applied generously it probably excludes the streaky Wright. As I’ve written before, many fans associate Beltran with his Game 7 strikeout, as Wilpon does.
As for Jose Reyes, who Wilpon said has “had everything wrong with him” and therefore won’t be getting a Carl Crawford-esque contract, I have to disagree. Reyes will get a huge contract if he stays healthy this season—it just won’t be from the Mets, apparently.
Will Wilpon’s interview negatively affect the Mets going forward? It can’t help, but anyone who thinks it will make it harder to sign free agents is misinformed (baseball players, 99 percent of the time, care about one thing: money). It’s possible the Mets did lose bargaining power should they explore a trade for Reyes or Beltran, though we’ll likely never know for sure.
The New Yorker article confirmed some of the unflattering beliefs of Mets fans the past few years: Wilpon loves the Dodgers (“All the Dodger stuff [in Citi Field]—that was an error of judgment on my part,” Wilpon said); the Mets are clueless when it comes to media and public relations. But is also portrayed the owner as just another disgruntled fan—albeit a rich one who has more control over the team than he seems to realize.
During that April game against Houston, the Mets trailed by one heading into the ninth when Reyes led off with a single. “I’d have him steal,” Wilpon told Toobin. “We’ve had three blown bunts already tonight. I don’t like bunt here.” Mets manager Terry Collins called for a bunt, which was popped up just in front of the pitcher’s mound and turned into a double play that killed any potential rally.
Like the rest of us watching that game, the Mets owner just wanted to see Reyes steal a base. He knows better than most that he won’t get to see it for much longer.