What should we make of Fred Wilpon’s comments to the New Yorker?
I’ll admit that when I read that Wilpon story in the New Yorker this morning my primary focus was what it all meant for his ownership situation and the Madoff mess, but based on the initial response today, it’s clear that the immediate fallout is going to be all about Wilpon’s comments regarding the Mets in general and Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran in particular.
For those who didn’t see, he implied that Reyes is delusional regarding the money he’s going to want as a free agent, of Wright he said he was a very good player, but “not a superstar,” and he slammed both Beltran’s strikeout to end the 2006 NLCS and his contract, which he called himself a “schmuck” for giving him. Of the Mets in general, he called them “a shitty team.”
I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, the owner of the team CAN’T be saying this stuff, especially in New York. Not unless he wants a media firestorm on his hands, which is what he’s clearly in for based on early reaction. Moreover, this will not go over well in the Mets’ clubhouse because the last thing any player needs or expects is to be ripped by his owner.
On the other hand, is this anything we haven’t heard from Mets fans and the media that covers them? People have ripped Reyes, Beltran and Wright for years, often in the very same terms Wilpon did. I disagree with much of that criticism, but Wilpon won’t be giving Jose Reyes “Carl Crawford money.” The Beltran contract wasn’t the best one Wilpon ever game out, even if Beltran (in my view anyway) has made it respectable in an overall sense. David Wright is great, but he probably isn’t a “superstar” in the way that we tend to think of that term, so that’s not really a slam in my view.
Moreover, if you’re a fan of a “shitty team,” don’t you like it that the owner acknowledges it rather than play the Baghdad Bob routine and pretend that everything is sunshine and daisies? I want my team’s owner to acknowledge my frustration, even if I may take issues with his specific critiques and agree that he shouldn’t be the guy saying this stuff publicly. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if Wilpon said that Carlos Beltran’s contract was a bargain, Jose Reyes and David Wright were megastars and if he said that the Mets are fantastic and positioned for greatness?
I’m not defending Wilpon’s decision to say this stuff. Because yeah, this is going to be a P.R. disaster for Wilpon and no, if I’m in his shoes I don’t say this stuff publicly because there is nothing good that can happen for me or the team if I do. But on some level, I have a better opinion of Wilpon after all of this. P.R. disasters come and go, but an honest glimpse into the mindset of an owner is a rare, rare thing. And I think that there is at least a portion of the Mets’ fan base that will appreciate it, even if it goes over horribly in the short term.