You’re Fred Wilpon. You own the National League’s richest franchise, canada the Mets, lately one of baseball’s poorest-run teams. You let it happen. You don’t know baseball, but you do know money. Or maybe not. You’re about to lose total control of the team because of what looks like a big-bucks bobble.
You have a fellow bumbler in your home county, NY state’s richest, Nassau. The county’s Skipper Edward (Eddie) Mangano has done such a poor job with his gilt-edged franchise that he, too, is losing control of it. But the sports pages give you top billing in the sloppy-play department.
When Bernie Madoff got caught stealing, you knew it wouldn’t hurt for people to think the Mets’ owner had taken a hit. Among other things, it gave you an excuse to cut the team’s 2010 payroll. In fact, you had scored as a Madoff investor. But if losers in Bernie’s game show in court that you should have known not to play ball with Madoff,, you and the Mets could lose close to a billion dollars. That means you must find a partner to help pay the bills.
Skipper Eddie has an oversight board as a partner for the moment. He was a tea-party player who upended Team Dems’ Tom Suozzi in November 2009. On his opening day that January, Mangano cleared his ballpark of an unpopular energy tax. Pressbox observer Steve (Washington Monthly) Benen describes what Eddie promised next:
“Mangano would slash taxes, cut spending, and create a nice little utopia. Voters loved the sound of it. A year later, (he) had slashed taxes as promised, but struggled to limit public services that the community had grown to appreciate. (Last) week, the consequences of Tea Party economics became clear — Nassau County, facing a full-fledged fiscal crisis, saw its finances taken over by the state.”
Mangano can get out from under state control if he revises his budget realistically before the 15th of the month. Wilpon’s only recourse, pending the lawsuit’s outcome: get used to having a partner looking over his shoulder. Fred’s team is in a variation of the Knicks’ futile “Waiting for Lebron (James)” stance last year. The Mets are counting on the extra multi-millions they’ll have to spend in 2012 when the salaries of, among others, Carlos Beltran, Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo, come off the books. We know that’s another way of saying this: “Wait ‘Til Next Year.”
The Bottom Line on Egypt’s Immediate Future: With Team USA providing close to a billion dollars in military aid to Cairo, “We are calling the shots.” (Democracy Now)
Talk About Precautions: The Yankees-wary Red Sox included a clause in Carl Crawford’s contract with this stipulation: Should the Sox trade him, Crawford’s new team must first agree NOT to send him to the Bombers.
Wells (almost) Worth It: MLB-TV’s Mitch Williams on the Jays’ Vernon Wells’ switch to the Angels: “After playing in the AL East and knowing his team didn’t have a chance, he’ll be rejuvenated. Will he be worth $23 million a year? No. But he’ll hit and field like the near-All Star he is, and be great in the clubhouse.”
Won’t Be Long Now: On the first day of the month, baseball is back in the air: we can look forward to the opening of spring training in a little over a week and half: seven teams – the Cardinals, D-backs, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates and Tigers – will see pitchers and catchers report on Sunday, the 13th. By the 18th, when the Marlins open camp, every team will have battery mates in action. Who cares about the snow?