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Major League Baseball gave the Mets $20-25 million in financial assistance last fall

Feb 25, 2011, 5:55 PM EDT

Fred Wilpon

The Mets may be a big market team but they have big financial problems. Bigger than they’ve been letting on, it seems, because the New York Times is reporting that Major League Baseball provided the Mets $20 million to cover operating expenses last fall. Or maybe it was more, because the Daily News is reporting that it was $25 million.  Either way, Fred Wilpon is a tad sensitive about it all:

Wilpon, in Florida for spring training, said on Friday that he would not talk about the team’s finances. Asked directly whether baseball had been assisting him, Wilpon walked away, saying he did not want to discuss the team’s finances with a reporter.

Remember  last year when the Rangers got help with their operating expenses? How everyone considered that to be some kind of affront to fair play and market economics and all of that?  Something tells me that a team with a $140 million payroll and its own cable network needing similar charity isn’t going to go over well.

Also: remember how Tom Hicks started out saying he was going to sell a minority interest in the team?  And then had to take money to keep afloat?  Anyone really all that confident that the Wilpons are going to avoid the same fate Hicks met?

*Correction: When I first posted this I had the headline in the future tense — as in, the league was going to provide assistance. The assistance came last fall.  Sorry for the error.

  1. Kevin S. - Feb 25, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    *Patiently waiting for chrisny3 to rip you for having the audacity to mention that teams might be upset with the Mets, or pointing out the similarities to Hicks’ situation, or reporting two different loan amounts and biasing people towards the higher one by reporting them equally.*

    • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:28 AM

      I think you misunderstood some of my prior criticism. A lot of it had to do not with reporting something that didn’t jive with another report elsewhere (this is to be expected with today’s instant internet news coverage) but rather a tendency to mischaracterize or actually misquote the story that was actually being reported on and linked to here. If you’re going to link to an article, that is the one that should be accurately portrayed.

  2. uyf1950 - Feb 25, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    …the next thing to come for the Mets is payroll dumping.

    • BC - Feb 26, 2011 at 4:22 PM

      Assuming they’re 10 or more out in July, Reyes is as good as gone. Maybe Beltran as well.

  3. Reflex - Feb 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    It’ll be amusing to see this somehow explained away. And how payroll is only going to go up in the future. Cause the Wilpons are fantastic investors and their reputation means more than petty concerns like repaying those they helped defraud.

  4. xmatt0926x - Feb 25, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    Right now Ruben Amaro is wondering……”Jimmy Rollins or Jose Reyes for 2012..hmmmm”.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 25, 2011 at 9:11 PM

      Why would Amaro want one of the three chokesketeers from the Mutts when he can have an MVP from a World Series championship team? Why take the guy from the team who historically choked away a 7 game lead with 17 games to play when he can keep the heart and soul of the Phillies? Yeah, go look at WAR and xFIP and BABIP and all the rest of that happy horsebleep. I don’t agree with everything Ruben does, but signing J-Roll to another contract will be something that I definitely will applaud. You Mutts can keep the Three Choke-sketeers(Wright, Reyes, Beltran).

      • seeingwhatsticks - Feb 25, 2011 at 9:18 PM

        I wonder if those who talk about the greatness of Jimmy Rollins realize it’s been 2 full seasons since he was even above average.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 25, 2011 at 11:47 PM

        I wonder if those who want to replace Rollins with a loser like Reyes realize just what the difference is between a team like the Mutts and the Phillies. One is full of WINNERS…and one is full of LOSERS. You can worship your Excel Spreadsheet as much as you want.

      • Reflex - Feb 26, 2011 at 12:07 AM

        I’ve never seen a ‘WINNER’ who didn’t happen to play on a powerful team. In a sport like baseball it requires nine good position players, and at least two good starting pitchers and a couple of good relievers. No single player can drive a team to victory. No two players can. If it could, we’d be talking about the Card’s sixth World Series of the 2000′s, you know, after Bonds retired when he went to the previous 6.

        Rollins is a below average shortstop. At one point he was a major contributer to the Phillies success, but at this point he’s replacement level, possibly less. I don’t personally think Reyes would be any better given his injury history and continuing medical problems. But there are any number of other shortstops who could contribute more to the Phils success than Rollins likely will going forward.

        Not that Rollins is chopped liver. But he’s the Phils version of Jeter. Someone who people are overrating simply because they were so far above the norm for thier position in their prime, but who in reality are average or below average players now. If Rollins returns it will be because of one or more of these factors:

        a) Nobody better is in the Phils farm system or available as a free agent or via trade
        b) Rollins understands his diminished capabilities and accepts a reduced salary
        c) Amaro hands out a ludicrous contract way outsized to any performance

        I expect if he returns, C is the most likely reason why. Given the Howard and Ibanez contracts, Amaro simply isn’t that good at gauging free agent values. If he were really smart though, he’d do his best to acquire someone like Stephen Drew, who would thrive in that lineup and is a far better producer(even though he flies under the radar in Arizona). Rumor was that he was available this winter too…

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:31 AM

        Haha, Chris F., I think you’re still just pissed at my calling you out for your ridiculous statement that the Phillies suffered a lot of injuries last year.

        Rollins, at this stage in his career, is inferior to a healthy Reyes. Yes, health has been an issue with Reyes recently, but when he’s on the field and running on all cylinders, he’s a better player than Rollins.

      • paperlions - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:57 AM

        Rollins has never resembled anything like the most valuable player on his own team, much less the league. Him winning the MVP in 2007 was a bad joke, Utley was a far superior offensive and defensive player that year and a number of non-Phillies would have been better choices as well.

      • henryd3rd - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:42 AM

        Spoken like a true Phillies’ fan without any insight into ow the game is played. Winning is all that counts. Amaro is a smart GM and if he’s able to find a younger talented short stop to take Rollins place in the field why wouldn’t he take a look at Reyes? Rollins’ not going to be playing forever!

      • chrisny3 - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:35 AM

        Craig, the names have not been revealed by Greenberg or MLB. Since it’s in the vetting stage, how can there be a closing date? Of course it’s news that at least “dozens” of investors are interested in a minority share and the first 12 names have been submitted to MLB. I guess it’s only not news if you were predicting and hoping no investors would materialize.

    • BC - Feb 26, 2011 at 4:34 PM

      Why the heck not 2011. You can have The Human Hamstring Pull any time you want him.

  5. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 25, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    Is there anyone that does not think the Mets have been very poorly run since the Wilpons took over? The wrong partner bought the franchise.

    • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:34 AM

      Yes, they’ve been poorly run but I don’t know why Doubleday would have been any better. His only credential is that he pushed for the Mets to acquire Piazza.

      • paperlions - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:54 AM

        Any owner that stays out of the way would have been an enormous improvement. Or even any owner smart enough to hire smart baseball people, instead of the people hired by the Mets.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        It’s a bad misconception that the Wilpons don’t “stay out of the way.” It’s patently false that they interfere anymore than any other owner. However, I have always said that their failure to hire smart baseball people to run their operations was a major failing. As well as their tendency to stick with certain people because of blind loyalty. It’s this same blind loyalty that got Fred Wilpon in trouble with Madoff.

  6. seeingwhatsticks - Feb 25, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    Seems like it’s a matter of when not if the Wilpons will be selling the majority share of the Mets. I can’t imagine any of the other owners are pleased with this disclosure, and I can’t blame them because I would be livid.

    Does this eventually end the Bud Selig era?

    • cur68 - Feb 25, 2011 at 7:01 PM

      Thus opening the door for the Trump New York mets.

      • Old Gator - Feb 25, 2011 at 11:54 PM

        Trump? Think Cuban. I do, every day, but that’s Macondo for ya.

      • BC - Feb 26, 2011 at 4:24 PM

        M…. Maconudo….. Can’t wait until its above 50 here and not raining horizontally, so I can go outside and fire up a good cigar.

    • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:21 AM

      I still have no reason to doubt Greenberg when he said he had “dozens” of interested qualified parties willing to buy a minority share. He may have whittled that down to a manageable handful, but apparently the names have already been passed on to MLB for vetting. So I believe the Wilpons will still retain their controlling interest for the foreseeable future.

      As for the other owners not being pleased with the loan (I’m assuming you mean the “loan” here and not the “disclosure”) … why would they have an issue with an extra loan (on top of the standard MLB revolving credit line) to a team that has been the largest net contributor to the revenue sharing pool after the Yankees since the inception of revenue sharing? I would think most owners, with that knowledge, would not mind the temporary loan.

      The idea that the owners might be perturbed is an excellent example of spin vs. fact. Yes, it is a fact the Mets owners took out a loan from MLB in November. But any potential unhappiness on the part of the other owners is pure spin (speculation at this point) by the NYTs. It’s very consistent with their previous negative spin on the Wilpons.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:54 AM

        So, the MLB owners don’t have a problem ponying up roughly $700K to a team in the richest market. To quote Jim Bouton, “Yea, sure”

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:55 AM

        Chris — neither of us know for sure what other owners think about the mets needing this money from MLB, but let’s be clear about something:

        1) Your view that owners won’t have a problem is based on an assumption (i.e. that they want a revenue sharing team shored up) for which you have absolutely zero tangible information.

        2) My view that the owners might have a problem is based on the fact that less than a year ago these same owners got very, very pissed — and there were multiple reports to that effect — that the Rangers got the same sort of emergency financing from MLB.

        Who’s really spinning here?

        More broadly, I would like you to acknowledge a couple of things, absent spin:

        1) That the Mets financial situation is extremely screwed up right now;

        2) That no matter your personal belief on the merits of their defense or the validity of Picard’s claims, the Wilpons and Katz do face tangible legal jeopardy by the Picard suit, in the same way that anyone who has a giant lawsuit filed against them faces tangible legal jeopardy;

        3) That Wilpon has been less than publicly forthcoming about the financial problems facing the Mets in the past couple of years.

        4) There there exist incentives in place for Wilpon and Greenberg to paint a rosier picture of the prospects of selling a minority stake in the Mets than may actually exist, in the same way that anyone trying to create a market for their product will try to paint a rosy picture of that product.

        None of those are value judgments. They are, as I see it, simple facts of the Mets situation right now. Can you please, without going into your Tokyo Rose act for the Wilpons, acknowledge those four things as facts?

        If you can’t I will have no choice but to conclude that you are not dealing with reality and, as such, I’m going to simply start ignoring you and suggest that others do the same.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:39 AM

        Craig, yes, I’m making a pure assumption regarding the other owners’ feelings, but then so was the NYT’s who I am criticizing here.

        And, no, my assumption that the other owners wouldn’t mind wasn’t because I thought they want to help a big market contributor to the pool survive — though that is an excellent point and one which I agree with. The only thing I was thinking about was gratitude or a sort of indebtedness. I’m going to estimate that the Mets have put in $200-400 million more into the pool than they’ve taken out since revenue sharing was implemented in 1996. So in light of this big contribution already made (not what’s to come) I would think the other owners wouldn’t mind. It’s not a handout too. It’s a loan.

        And maybe the owners got very pissed at the Rangers because they have not been net contributors to the revenue sharing pool the way the Mets have been. I think that in some years, they might have been among the teams getting the handouts. Hicks may also not be a popular owner because his A-Rod contract is still viewed — fairly or unfairly — as something that fueled FA prices.

        Did I provide counter-spin? Absolutely. But the NYT’s spun first!

        As for you wanting me to acknowledge certain things:

        1) The Mets financial situation does appear precarious but mostly in light of the Picard lawsuit. Absent that lawsuit, which still has to be litigated, I don’t think the situation is as bad as many are making it out to be. The Yankees are even more highly leveraged and more in debt than the Mets. Considerably more. Sure, they don’t have a pending lawsuit and have more revenues, but they are in even deeper debt than the Mets. And, no, I am not saying their situation is precarious at all.

        2) I have ever stated otherwise. No matter who is right or wrong in any legal proceeding, justice isn’t always done. That could happen with the Wilpons. And, in fact, I’ve been crystal clear here in predicting only that Picard will lose on the “should have known” part of his suit. There is still the “net profits” portion of the suit which I’ve never once said didn’t have any merit to it at all.

        3) Well, that remains to be seen whether there will be any issue paying back this MLB loan. For the most part, I do believe they have been truthful. It is only since the lawsuit filing in December (or thereabouts with the November loan) that things appear to be getting dicey. So up until this fall, their statements that Madoff wasn’t impacting the Mets were correct.

        4) Yes, but not to the extent of Greenberg lying in detail in the newspaper. If you want to exaggerate a situation, you stick to generalities. But when you start to embellish a story, it becomes a lie. So, I’m going to give Greenberg the benefit of the doubt and say he is not lying.

        And, yes, your questions included value judgments. They are not simple facts. You should know that as a lawyer. Saying the Wilpons are roughly 400 million in debt on the stadium is a fact. Saying that this alone puts them in peril is a value judgment. It may or not be true..

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:44 AM

        Should read:

        2) I have never stated otherwise.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:50 AM

        Pancho, what the heck are you talking about — $700k?

      • paperlions - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:57 AM

        The $20MM is coming from “MLB”, but MLB itself doesn’t have any money, that is a money pool created by money provided by teams, including the Mets. That means that each other team “loaned”, on average, $666,666.67 to one of the top “earning” teams in the league. If you can screw up the financial situation of a cash cow like the Mets, you are bad at business, and owners that don’t have the luxury of a market like NY (in other words, about 25 other ownership groups), you have to be at least a little pissed to “loan” money to some guys that so badly screwed up a great situation.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 10:06 AM

        paperlions, but where is the harm if the money is paid back with interest?

        You talk as if this were a handout. It’s not. It’s a loan. Even if the current Mets can’t pay it back and the worst happens — they declare bankruptcy for example — they will then sell the team and MLB will get that money back as a result of the sale.

      • paperlions - Feb 26, 2011 at 10:43 AM

        I don’t think the Mets get any appreciation from other owners for paying into the revenue sharing pool. The Mets pay into that pool mostly because they made a number of bad signings, contracts that were panned as ludicrous at the time, which can have a net negative effect on other teams (above and beyond what most may receive from the Mets in revenue sharing) by increasing the price of free agents (or of resigning your players already under contract).
        .
        Bringing the Yankees debt up is a red herring designed to distract. How much the Yankees owe is irrelevant because they actually make enough money to pay their own bills, and much, much, much more. In contrast, the Wilpon’s were relying on a scheme to pay bills; now the scheme is gone, they can’t make ends meet, they are borrowing more money, they have a bloated payroll and a bad team in a bad economy, and prospects don’t look good. To make matters worse, collateral (the Madoff accounts) they were using for some loans is gone. The amount of debt isn’t the question, it is whether or not they can pay anyone back without selling the team. They can, but to do so it looks like they are going to have to sell their stake in SNY.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 7:01 PM

        paperlions, your saying the other owners don’t appreciate the Mets for being the second largest contributor to revenue sharing is pure speculation on your part. Without the Mets, most of the small market teams would be much worse off. And your reasoning for why the Mets are such a big contributor also doesn’t make any sense. “Bad signings” which are just as endemic with smaller market teams as they are with the Mets have little impact on revenue sharing. The Mets have been a big contributor because they’ve operated a successful franchise in a large market that allows it to generate large revenues. They have a big revenue sharing burden whether or not they have “bad signings” because they have always been able to pull in large revenues from ticket sales and broadcast rights since 1996.

        Your characterization of the Wilpons being unable to generate significant revenue without Madoff is also off the mark. The Mets have significant revenue entirely independent of any investments. Post-Madoff, these revenues were estimated by Forbes to be 2nd only to the Yankees. It’s also incorrect to suggest any revenues wouldn’t be sitting in other investments earning profits (albeit smaller) had Madoff never existed.

        And you missed my point about the Yankees hefty debt. The point was, people automatically associate big debt with trouble, whether it’s there or not. They hear a huge number – say, $400 million of debt – and automatically assume that’s a problem. It isn’t necessarily. But they’re doing that in the Mets case. I’m guessing the Yankees stadium debt is somewhere close to 800 million (or twice the Mets). So in the absence of detailed information regarding the Mets revenues, including SNY profits, one can’t assume the debt numbers alone are a problem. Of course in the context of a large judgment this would be a problem, but a large judgment exists only as a possibility at this point, and only in the far future.

        This is merely a short-term loan to tide the Mets owners over until revenues from the regular season roll in. I wouldn’t be surprised if such short terms loans didn’t happen with regularity – and your team and even the Yankees haven’t dipped into MLB’s revolving credit line in the recent past. These things are always kept secret. The only reason this 25 mill loan became public is because it was above the standard amount and someone decided to sing to the NYT’s.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 7:22 PM

        To Craig and seeingwhatsticks —

        Both of you have questioned Steve Greenberg’s veracity regarding the level of interest in buying a minority share of the Mets. Essentially, you have both accused him of being untruthful in the Daily News article in which he gave detailed information.

        The NY Times also questioned Greenberg’s veracity but not as directly. In their report on the 25 mill loan, at the end, what they attempted to do is downplay the level of interest in the Mets saying:

        The efforts by Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz to sell a portion of the club have generated modest levels of interest. Fewer than 12 potential buyers have applied to Major League Baseball for the right to examine the finances of the Mets, a necessary first step before bidding for the team.

        Well, just hours ago, the Daily News fired back:

        The New York Times reported Friday that interest in the sale of part of the team has been modest, with “fewer than 12″ applications before MLB, a necessary process to buy into a team, but a person familiar with the inquiries fielded by financial expert Steve Greenberg disputes that characterization.

        According to the person familiar with the inquiries, MLB allows only 12 applications at one time and that is the number that is currently before the commissioner’s office. “There have been 30 legitimate inquiries, an unprecedented number,” said the person.

        So, again, as I told you earlier today and previously, the level of specificity from Greenberg has been pretty high which has led me to believe he is telling the truth. He only added more details today.

        I am pretty confident by now that all of you who have proclaimed that no one will be interested in buying a minority share of the Mets are clearly wrong. And score one for “New York’s Picture Newspaper” over “All the news that’s fit to print.”

        What’s so ironic with the NY Times’ blatant attempt to spin this aspect of the story is that they reportedly have been trying to sell their own small share of the Boston Red Sox for over two years without success. Maybe they need to speak with Steve Greenberg themselves, lol.

        At any rate, the war between the NYT’s and NY Post on one side, and the Daily News on the other, is very entertaining.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Feb 26, 2011 at 7:23 PM

        Maybe you missed it but the story about the revenue sharing was reported in your beloved Daily News as well. If anyone “decided to sing to the NYT” it was most likely another owner (who else would know and want to share?), which demonstrates that this loan is not popular among other owners in the league. I still do not understand your constant dismissals of the NYT and everything they report just because you don’t like what it says about the Wilpons and/or the Mets. Are you suggesting that the story is not true even as it was reported in other places? Is reporting on facts somehow an anti-Mets spin?

        How much more debt can the Mets afford to take on? As someone mentioned in the comments on a previous post, the Mets revenues amounted to something in the $24-$26 million range, so how does expect to pay off a $25 million loan in a relatively short period of time while its owners are facing a $1 billion lawsuit?

        If other owners feel that Wilpon is being given preferential treatment because of his relationship with Bud Selig, that’s going to be a big problem for Bud. The fact that Selig has made a lot of people a lot of money won’t help him the moment he starts costing those same people a lot of money, and if Selig is the only thing protecting the Wilpons right now what happens to the Wilpons if/when Selig is gone? Like I said, MLB and the commissioner’s office have no reason to want to publicize this loan and neither do the Mets. The most likely source is another owner who is pissed about the way this situation is being handled.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 26, 2011 at 7:42 PM

        Cut the crap, Chris. My observation that Greenberg has an incentive to overstate the level of interest in minority shares of the Mets is not “questioning his veracity.” It’s identifying an immutable and long-standing fact of business. Unless you count every single business person who has ever entered into a negotiation of any size a liar, merely pointing out the bleeding obvious dynamics at play here is not “questioning Greenberg’s veracity.”

        You’re quite adept at pointing out the biases and blind spots of others. One wonders how you seem so unaware at how just utterly in-the-bag you are for Wilpon and the Mets here.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 7:56 PM

        I still do not understand your constant dismissals of the NYT and everything they report just because you don’t like what it says about the Wilpons and/or the Mets. Are you suggesting that the story is not true even as it was reported in other places?

        Oy vey! seeingwhatsticks, I’ve tried on 4 or 5 separate occasions already to explain facts vs. spin but apparently you don’t understand what I’ve been saying. I don’t know what to do. Let me try again.

        FACT: The Wilpons borrowed 25 mill from MLB.

        This is an incontrovertible fact, not subject to interpretation. On facts reported by both the NYT’s and Daily News, I have never questioned the accuracy. So, no, as I’ve said over and over again, I don’t question the facts as reported by the NYT’s.

        NOT A FACT: The other owners might be angry that MLB gave a loan to the Wilpons.

        This is not a fact. It is pure speculation. So when the NYT’s reports the existence of the loan, I believe it. When they speculate and make up their own scenario of how the other owners feel about the loan, it is spin and NOT fact.

        I am not doing this again, I will bookmark this page and if you keep bringing up the same question about whether or not I distrust “everything” written by the NYT’s, I’m just going to throw this URL at you. I can’t keep writing the same thing over and over.

        the Mets revenues amounted to something in the $24-$26 million range, so how does expect to pay off a $25 million loan in a relatively short period of time while its owners are facing a $1 billion lawsuit?

        Are you serious? The Mets revenues were $270 million for the 2009 season — and that doesn’t even include SNY. If paperlions wrote that, that figure is wrong,. I just haven’t had a chance to reply to all of his posts yet to correct him. C’mon, not even the Royals and Marlins have such puny revenues.

        If anyone “decided to sing to the NYT” it was most likely another owner (who else would know and want to share?),

        MLBPS and the bidders Greenberg passed to MLB might have this info. So, you are wrong in assuming no one else would have it. Moreover, there are employees at MLB (ie, secretaries, other assistants) who might have talked.

        If other owners feel that Wilpon is being given preferential treatment because of his relationship with Bud Selig, that’s going to be a big problem for Bud.

        No one is going to get mad at Bud. The owners love him. They love him so much he makes more money than most of the baseball players. And, as I said, they will be happy to extend a loan to the Mets who have been the second largest contributor to the revenue sharing pool. At least most of them will be. There may always be one cranky owner or two, but they will be in the minority.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:00 PM

        Craig, did you read the article with the quotes by Greenberg in the Daily News? The earlier article in which he had specifics in terms of the “dozens” of “legitimate” and “serious” inquiries regarding a Mets minority share?

        You either believe him or your don’t. If you believe him, you wouldn’t have asked me that question about Greenberg this morning. It would have been moot and pointless to ask.
        A waste of time. So my only assumption is that you didn’t believe him. There is no other possibility.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:08 PM

        Yes I read it. And yes, I am skeptical that there are “dozens” of serious inquiries. But to be skeptical of that is not to “question the man’s veracity” which they way you put it — and the way you tend to put a lot of things — is to make an accusation that someone is being unfair or dishonest or is making some mortal accusation against your precious Wilpons and Greenbergs.

        One can be skeptical of the number of inquiries. One can be skeptical of how serious they were, however many there were. To be skeptical of such things in such a context is not to impugn anyone’s integrity and doesn’t really call for the high pitch defense you give the guy. A defense that, as I noted in my last comment, really makes you seem like the far least objective person commenting here.

        The Wilpons are experiencing short term and minor liquidity issues, you say. Tis but a scratch. Merely a flesh wound. Maybe it is and the multiple warning signs that this is far worse for them are merely red herrings.

        But I do question what, if anything, would ever allow you admit that the Wilpons may, in fact, be up shit creek. Frankly, I can’t think of anything that you couldn’t deflect or explain away while accusing others of misreading the situation and making accusations.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:26 PM

        Craig, of course the Wilpons may be up shit creek. But they could also have everything under control. With an anticipated revenue stream that has already started to flow that can be used to pay off the debt. And with “dozens” of serious interested parties in buying a minority share. And with an expert legal team that is telling him he has a strong case to fight Picard on the merits of the law.

        No one knows for sure right now. Not you or me or even the NYT’s no matter how much they pretend to be in the know.

        So we are left to argue our own beliefs. That’s what I’ve been doing. Excuse me for not agreeing with most of you. That’s just how it is.

        As for Greenberg, I don’t understand how if you’re skeptical of what someone says, then you’re also not questioning their veracity at the same time. They are either lying or not. There is no middle ground when it comes to a simple fact of “dozens” of legitimate parties. There were either “dozens” or not. If not, he was lying. If there were, then he was telling the truth.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:33 PM

        ” They are either lying or not. There is no middle ground when it comes to a simple fact of ‘dozens’ of legitimate parties.”

        Sure there is. “Legitimate” is an opinion of Greenberg’s. He can’t know the true seriousness of any investor’s interest unless and until a deal is made. There could be dozens of pikers. There could be three serious people and 22 pikers. For someone who is so good at detecting spin, why are you so loathe to question whether Greenberg is spinning this to make it look better than it is? The incentive is there in the circumstances, even if Greenberg — an experienced dealmaker with billions of dollars of transactions under his belt — would never, ever consider engaging in a bit of puffery surrounding a transaction that is being watched by millions?

      • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:06 PM

        “Legitimate” in this case would be in the context of Greenberg’s initial vetting. Of course eventually someone may pull the wool over his eyes. However there is no way to know that for sure at this point … so as long as someone meets the set of standards he has instituted for this stage of the process, then they are legitimate (for this stage).

        And if Greenberg is spinning — if he knows already that there are only 3 investors that meet the set of standards set for this stage and 22 who don’t — and he told a reporter that there are “dozens” of “legitimate” investors now, then he is lying. Because he is telling the reporter something which he himself KNOWS is not true.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 27, 2011 at 8:38 AM

        Craig, I answered your questions yesterday. Will you answer some of mine?

        1) Has it not been your position all along that not a single legitimate serious investor will be interested in buying a minority share of the Mets? And that the Wilpons will ultimately fail in their attempt to find a legitimate minority investor?

        2) Do you believe that Greenberg has (a) zero legitimate investors willing to buy a minority share (b) “dozens” of legitimate investors or (c) just a few and less than a dozen?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 27, 2011 at 8:57 AM

        “1) Has it not been your position all along that not a single legitimate serious investor will be interested in buying a minority share of the Mets? And that the Wilpons will ultimately fail in their attempt to find a legitimate minority investor?”

        I don’t believe I’ve ever said that “not a single” investor could be found, and if I did say that it was an overstatement. I do believe it will be very difficult for them to actually find someone willing to take a minority share with no option to eventually take full control of the team (see the Padres sale a couple of years ago as a model I could see happening). If they do get one that fits that description, I will be rather surprised. But no, nothing is impossible.

        “2) Do you believe that Greenberg has (a) zero legitimate investors willing to buy a minority share (b) “dozens” of legitimate investors or (c) just a few and less than a dozen?”

        I really don’t know. My guess — and it is just a guess — is that he has a small handful of people with both the means to invest and who have shown something beyond a kicking-the-tires interest. I would not be at all shocked if he has taken dozens of calls from people.

        This is probably like the Open House I had before I sold my house I had dozens of people coming through that day. I suppose I could characterize that as dozens of people with legitimate interest, but it’s obviously a little more complicated than that because you don’t know how I define “legitimate interest” much in the same way we have no idea how Greenberg defines it.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 27, 2011 at 9:28 AM

        chrisny3

        The $700K per team is $20-25M divided by 30 teams for an average of $666K to $833 per team. I did the math in my head and called it roughly $700K per team. When MLB has to lend the Mets money it has to come from somewhere. The only place it can come from is the revenue MLB collects that is distributed to the teams. Yes, MLB could borrow the money and pay interest on it and then pass it through to Mets, somebody has to pay the interest (ie the other teams). Also as the amount that MLB lends to the Mets goes up the deep it digs into the other teams pockets. With the very real potential of a whooping $300M loan need in next several years, I would guess the rest of the team would be pissed.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 27, 2011 at 9:37 AM

        “I do believe it will be very difficult for them to actually find someone willing to take a minority share with no option to eventually take full control of the team

        Craig, an option to take over full control of the team SHOULD the Wilpons decide to sell everything is nothing — inconsequential — in the context of this debate. Such an option would be at the discretion of the Wilpons. That’s like saying “The Nationals won’t be able to sign XYZ free agent without an option year.” The hard part is not the option year. The hard part is attracting the FA in the first place. So, it sounds like you’re throwing in “with no option to eventually take full control of the team” as a face saver. Sorry, but that’s how it sounds to me, given that most everyone has been simply saying “No one is going to ever want a part of the Mets without control or a part of SNY thrown in.”

        As for your “open house” theory, which I disagree with in this situation, according to the Daily News, Greenberg has already submitted the names of the first dozen investors to MLB to be further vetted by Selig’s office. MLB will only take 12 names at a time for review. So, if your theory is correct, then you’re saying among those 12 names are some which Greenberg knows didn’t meet his own initial set of vetting standards and which may not meet MLB’s own strict standards for admission to the club?

        See I think Greenberg took more than a few dozen calls, And out of those maybe 50-60 calls he has a few “dozen” legitimate candidates who would meet MLB’s own strict vetting process. He passed along the first 12 names to MLB, and if he thought any of those wouldn’t meet their strict criteria or weren’t “legitimate” in the context of that criteria, he’s not going to waste everyone’s time with those names as the vetting apparently is a long and involved process. He’s there as a recruiter/screener, and he wouldn’t be doing his job properly if he’s passing along any name which he felt was not legitimate.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:02 AM

        Pancho, OK, I was was just wondering how you went about arriving at the number. For the record, it’s 25,000,000/29 = 760,000 (rounding off) as there are 29 other clubs.

        However, your premise that the other owners are lending this money to the Mets is incorrect as it’s actually a line of credit with banks that MLB taps for this. And the Mets pay the interest. This loan has no monetary impact on the other owners, and, as I was saying, most probably have no issue with a short term loan to a club which has been the second largest contributor of handouts to other clubs via revenue sharing.

        As for any net profits that might have to be given back to Picard, that is also of no concern to the other owners. It doesn’t impact them.

      • paperlions - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:20 AM

        No, it is actually out of 30. The Mets also pay into that general fund.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:21 AM

        “Now that the news has come out that there are indeed investors willing to buy a minority share”

        Name them. Who are they? When is the closing date? Or is it not really news?

        See, other people besides you can be an annoying pedant.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM

        paperlions, regardless, the assumption the loan was coming out of the general fund is wrong. It was not. The money is actually coming from the bank.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:37 AM

        Craig, the names have not been revealed by Greenberg or MLB. Since it’s still in the vetting stage, how can there be a closing date? Of course it’s news that at least “dozens” of investors are interested in a minority share and the first 12 names have already been submitted to MLB. I guess it’s only not news if you were predicting and hoping no such investors would materialize.

  7. rcali - Feb 25, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    I’d love to read the rest of this article but I can’t stop laughing at the headline.

  8. henryd3rd - Feb 26, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    I wonder if Sandy Alderson would like a “do over” after he found out how desperate the Mets’ financial situation really is? He had to know about the loan since he worked for in MLB’s front office; but did he know the gravity of the Mets’ financial woes?

    • BC - Feb 26, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      Did ANY of the people or organizations that placed money with Madoff know what he was doing behind the scenes? NO, I would believe. By all accounts it was an incredible cover-up. The guy bankrupted or nearly bankrupted many charties and individual investors, let alone the Wilpons, and the money was laundered to the point where you could eat off it. The Wilpons won’t starve, but many others had their lives or businesses ruined. As least the SOB got his. Doesn’t do much good for those who don’t have the money to litigate and get some of their money back.
      This is different from the derivative securities thing that killed Lehman, Washington Mutual, Merrill Lynch and so many others. The people doing it and investing in it all knew what they were doing. It was the regulators who did nothing because the financial sky was rosy at the time.

    • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 7:26 PM

      He took the job because it would be the highest payroll and most resources he’s ever had to work with in his career. That hasn’t changed.

  9. davebrownspiral - Feb 26, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    Meanwhile, over at Ace Ventura’s apartment….

    What the… That’s it! chrisny is Wilpon!..Wilpon is chrisny! chrisny is a man!
    [Ace remembers how chrisny kissed him and the pieces fall into place]
    Ace Ventura: Oh, my GOD! chrisny is a man!

  10. henryd3rd - Feb 26, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    The more I read about the Wilpons’ financial mess the more I have come to believe that Sandy Alderson’s appointment as GM was not happenstance. MLB wanted to protect their $20,000,000.00 – $25,000,000.00 investment and make sure that the Wilpons don’t squander their money. Bud and the other owners knew that gravity of the Mets’ financial situation and probably made some stipulations in their loan agreement that the Wilpons had to agree to the appointment of Alderson to watch over the Mets’ day to day operation. Stay tuned because more will come out in the light once the Trustee goes to depose all of these characters. They can lie and tell us anything; but under oath they are compelled to tell the truth or end up sharing a cell with Bernie.

    What a country! The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Or I should say the rich gett low interest loans from their friends. Good luck on signing any decent free agents while these characters own that team.

  11. yankeesfanlen - Feb 26, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    I agree with paperlions in his defense, or rather explanation, of the Yankees debtload.One NY team can walk into the Mercedes dealer and order two of everything, no money down, and the other has a problem getting financing on a 92 Dodge from Speedy Used Car Sales in Lodi, NJ.

  12. paperlions - Feb 26, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    To strip away all of the tangential arguments, the Mets had to borrow $25MM just to stay in operation last year, they didn’t borrow the money for convenience, but out of necessity….and at a time when the LAST thing they wanted to do was incur more debt. They will have to pay at least $300MM back to satisfy the lawsuit. Where is that money going to come from? If they find a sucker to hand them $250MM for a minority stake in the team, that still won’t solve their debt or cash flow problems, it won’t even allow them to pay off the minimum they will owe from the law suit….not to mention the possibility (if it is possible) after suit brought by the trustee is settled/over that people who were recruited directly by the Wilpons to invest with Madoff and for whom they acted as a buffer between investor and Madoff may file additional law suits that specifically blame the Wilpons for losses.

    • chrisny3 - Feb 26, 2011 at 8:12 PM

      paperlions, the Wilpons may not have to pay back $300 million to satisfy the lawsuit. That is NOT a certainty. Because while I don’t think anyone is disputing the right of Picard to claw back net profits, many are taking issue with how he calculated net profits. The Wilpons contend, for example, that he left out in his accounting certain of their Sterling accounts which had losses. If he had included those accounts, the net profits would be significantly smaller. So this still needs to be litigated. And, any judgment won’t be coming before 2012 at the earliest. So the Wilpons don’t have to pay back anything this year unless they settle.

      As for where the money will come from, do you realize the Mets in 2009 had 280 million in revenues, and that doesn’t even include SNY? (Those are Forbes latest numbers.) So there are plenty of revenues during the season from which to pay off debts.

      • paperlions - Feb 27, 2011 at 9:03 AM

        So….the Mets had all of those revenues and STILL had to borrow $25MM in November? How much they bring in doesn’t really matter if it is less than their financial obligations. The Mets payroll will be what? $120-140MM. They have a lot of loans and associated interest to pay off (including $52MM/year in stadium bond payments), some of their primary sources of operating expenses are gone, including the Madoff “profits” and the fake loans they would get from Madoff in the form of “investments”.
        .
        It costs money to borrow money, if the Mets revenue was sufficient to cover operations they would not have borrowed money from MLB or decided they had to sell a large portion of the team. According to one recent report, the Mets and Citifield are worth a combined -$225 (yeah, that’s a negative) because of debt associated with each. They have borrowed $1.5B against the team, field and SNY (of which they only own a 68% share).
        .
        Also, there is no reason to believe anything the Wilpons or their representative say to the press because so far everything has been a lie or turned out to be untrue.

      • paperlions - Feb 27, 2011 at 9:05 AM

        Note: It isn’t that the team and field are worth nothing, in general…it is that they are worth that to the Wilpons because if they sell them the expected sale price will not come close to matching associate debt on those holdings.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 27, 2011 at 9:50 AM

        One of the reasons the Mets may have had to borrow the money is that they invested heavily in a new front office at the end of the season — plus an overhauled scouting system — while still having to pay Minaya. And, no, their primary sources of “operating income” are not gone. Madoff was not the primary source of “operating income” … ticket sales and broadcast fees were. You should know that Forbes estimate of 280 million in revenues is POST-Madoff. So your argument goes out the window.

        Further, you should know that debt doesn’t usually impact the overall valuation of a team (or sale price) so long as revenues are high enough to cover it.

        And if you’re going to believe nothing the Wilpons say, then this discussion is pointless, right?

      • paperlions - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:26 AM

        Alternatively, if you are going to believe every pro-Wilpon comment or spin (called lies by honest people as the goal of spin is to present something as other than it is) every comment to a pro-Wilpon bent, and insist that the presented facts are not important (or not facts)…then the discussion will be fruitless.
        .
        I am skeptical of anything the Wilpons say because they have earned that skepticism by lying pretty much every time they have made a public statement since the Madoff mess became public.
        .
        If you haven’t noticed, public honesty is not a virtue possessed by very many extremely wealthy people.

    • chrisny3 - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:46 AM

      Not all spin is a lie. For example, the NYT’s has been spinning its wheels off in this case, but even their spin isn’t necessarily a lie. It’s artful writing, evasive and incomplete and suggestive. OTOH, all lies are spin, especially if presented in the context of a story.

      I believe in all presented facts. I don’t believe in all presented spin. And I’m sure you only believe in the spin coming from the side you are on.

      Since you say the Wilpons have lied so much, can you just give me one actual quote from something they’ve said which was a lie at the time they made the statement? Just one?

      • paperlions - Feb 27, 2011 at 11:30 AM

        Yes, when they stated that profits from Madoff investments were not tied to or important to running the Mets and that the Madoff scandal would not affect the Mets operation.
        .
        Since that statement, it has come out that Madoff profits were regularly used to pay expenses related to running the team, and it is clear the the Madoff scandal had an immediate effect on the running of the team.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Feb 27, 2011 at 2:35 PM

        chris, part if spinning something is speaking in generalities that can’t actually be proven 100% false, which is exactly what Greenberg did; facts are about specifics that can be easily confirmed. If Greenberg had said something like “we’ve had X offers for this minority share, and the offers range in value from Y to Z” I’d be a lot more inclined to believe that what he said was “fact.” He could disclose that information without naming the investors and without getting into specifics about any one offer, and he certainly would have that information readily available, so why didn’t he do that? Wouldn’t that have been a lot more convincing than the generalities he spoke in?

        If you really want to get deep into the legitimacy of the “qualified” investors, I think it’s safe to assume that MLB and the other owners will only accept cash for the share given how much debt the Mets already have. So any person or group that would need financing in order to make the purchase would probably be denied by the league in this case, even if the level of financing would be acceptable under normal circumstances. That means that Greenberg can find people who would normally be “qualified” and offer them to MLB even though he knows they would not be approved, in an effort to make it look like there are a large number of people willing to offer $200+ million in cash for a minority share.

        I agree with others who say the biggest reason for anyone to be involved in this process is to best position themselves for majority ownership. I believe in a previous thread I said no one would have any interest but I failed to consider that possibility. Check out how the 20% investors impacted the sale of the Warriors last summer and you can see how an individual or group might be interested in a minority share if they believe the majority share will soon be placed on the market (especially if they can get a cut rate deal on that minority share based on the Wilpons present circumstances):

        http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2010/05/15/waiting-for-warriors-1st-bids-all-eyes-on-the-20-minority-owners/

        The minority owners made a deal with Ellison to approve his ownership and no one else’s, which meant that Ellison only had to buy 80% of the team while anyone else had to buy 100%. In the end, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber topped Ellison’s best offer (under somewhat dubious circumstances) and the 20% minority investors were bought out for 20% of the highest NBA franchise sale price ever ($450 million).

      • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 10:12 AM

        paperlions, can you give the actual quote as well as the date? I don’t believe the Wilpons ever said that Madoff investments and Mets money were never tied together. While they did say Madoff were not impacting the operations, it was TRUE at the time. It wasn’t until the time the lawsuit was actually filed that their financial situation changed.

        Circumstances change. This is what happened when Picard decided to overreach with a lawsuit a few months ago.

        So, give the actual quote.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 10:35 AM

        chris, part if spinning something is speaking in generalities that can’t actually be proven 100% false

        Exactly, and if you paid attention to what I wrote, I told you the exact same thing awhile back. But in this case, Greenberg is NOT speaking in mere generalities. He’s being specific, with actual numbers — dozens, 30, and 12 bids before MLB right now. If it ends up, for example, that only 3 bids were submitted to MLB, well then he will have been revealed to be a liar. So he made his words accountable by actually giving a lot of details that could be checked.

        There is no reason he should have given more specifics than he already did. This is a private process, after all. The fact that he actually gave details that could ultimately be checked is good enough to believe in what he said.

        If you really want to get deep into the legitimacy of the “qualified” investors, I think it’s safe to assume that MLB and the other owners will only accept cash for the share given how much debt the Mets already have. So any person or group that would need financing in order to make the purchase would probably be denied by the league in this case, even if the level of financing would be acceptable under normal circumstances. That means that Greenberg can find people who would normally be “qualified” and offer them to MLB even though he knows they would not be approved,

        1) There is no way I’m going to speculate as to what Greenberg’s criteria for his intiial vetting was or what MLB’s final criteria is.

        2) As to the idea that Greenberg would knowingly pass on names to MLB who he knows would not pass muster with them, I say utter nonsense. As I said before, he was hired to screen investors. He’s like a headhunter. They are hired to save others time. If he passes along people who he knows won’t pass muster with MLB he’s not doing his job and he’s wasting everyone’s time. Again, utter nonsense.

        I agree with others who say the biggest reason for anyone to be involved in this process is to best position themselves for majority ownership.

        Everyone is well aware of that possibility. That’s in fact how the Wilpons became majority owners — they had that option in their partnership with Doubleday. But what most people — including you — have been saying is not that the Wilpons won’t sell a minority share without such an option, but that the Wilpons won’t be able to sell a minority share regardless.

        In addition, such an option is pretty standard with large minority investors and is not a big deal as the majority investor still holds all the cards that matter.

  13. Jonny 5 - Feb 26, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    I can’t believe Chrisny here. If the ownership of your team is this screwed up, why would you prefer to defend them for everything. Rather than say, drive them out of town with pitchforks and torches? The best thing for your team would be someone else buying them. Look at the salary they carry and then record. Salary. Record. Salary. Record. For that alone they prove they have no place running a major league team. Then pile on all the issues… A team drawing below normal revenue in ticket sales, because most fans are tired of the Wilpons, and losing. Then the fact that the Wilpons are going to probably be belly up if try to hold onto the team past this season. If I were a Mets fan I’d be praying to God, allah, Bearded Jesus, and baby Jesus, Buddha, ghandi, And maybe even the devil, that the Wilpons sell the team asap.

    • yankeesfanlen - Feb 26, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      I hope you’re right Jonny. All the Mets fans around here want to do is run and hide for a multitude of reasons. Maybe they’ll just play a few good games so I can talk to them again.
      I’d hat to be the promoter for next year’s celebration if things don’t change.
      Can you imagine it:
      “50 Years of Metropolitans……..disfunction”

      • spudchukar - Feb 26, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        Pretty sure the misspelling of dysfunction is a type of lexical Freudian slip.

  14. simplicitymadecomplex - Feb 26, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    Chris NY#3 [or however others wish to deconstruct an internet user/name/tag/assignation] wrote

    “However, I have always said that their failure to hire smart baseball people to run their operations was a major failing.”

    to which I reply no poop and furthermore I wonder how this [the wilpons' failureS] played into their multi-leveled/faceted/headed/snaked/fictional/ FINANCIAL investments (not to mention family life, love life, political intrigue, etc. but why even question the morals/values/standards of this american exceptionalist ’cause said exceptionalist {actually every last one of them} could give a rat’s ass and/or other parts of said rat – my goodness so much “seems” connected – how and why others feel…) but hey that is a story for another time however it is ALL connected.

    Poster Henry D the 3rd then wrote

    “The more I read about the Wilpons’ financial mess the more I have come to believe that Sandy Alderson’s appointment as GM was not happenstance.”

    Darn straight HD the 3rd Sandy’s “appointment/hiring” had nothing to do with the wilpons and everything to do with MLB which is once again attempting to “save face” all the while knowing just how fucked up everything was/is and will continue to be regarding first and foremost the Mutts, and then by extension, everything else the wilpons have grasped within their hands. Greed knows no boundaries, follows no masters and given time destroys all it encompasses.

    That is why greed was once defined as one of humanity’s 7 deadly sins. Now greed is considered a virtue by far to many and that is absolutely obscene.

    This entire situation will become more and more deplorable as the “baseball” season progresses and in the end I, for one, want to see the wilpons dumped by the curb right there with ALL those the wilpons harmed in order that they become one of the masters of the universe. Their karma – the owners of nothing not even their souls which they already cashed in most likely during their 1st big investment.

    We are a world of many “nations” but very few communities.

    James Hall.

    • cur68 - Feb 27, 2011 at 1:00 AM

      Careful son. Sense sometimes don’t play when it comes to greed and capitalism and the equating of the two (no matter if only by association). No matter how correct and just the reduction of the whole mess may be to greed someone will scream “commie!” at you for pointing it out. Deep breath now. You are correct. These are the paths of greed and the gods of monkeys and men have said “that’s a sin”. I wish here and now to put in a bid for the coining of a new baseball term; “Wilponian”. This term is intended to mean; ‘Call it greed, cupidity, or avarice, someone has created a financial mess or an odor of missed financial opportunity through gross stupidity or mismanagement’. To use it in a sentence; “The whole Pujols thing is Wilponian”.

  15. jwbiii - Feb 26, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    The real problem here is that the Mets didn’t generate enough revenue during the season to cover their expenses over the winter. What expenses does a baseball team have in the winter that would cause them to take on additional debt? Payments on their existing $700M debt (see link below). MLB is considered the lender of last resort. This implies that banks are no longer willing to lend money to the team. If the Mets were unable to cover their expenses this year, why would anyone think they would be able to do so next year with an additional $20M-$25M encumbrance? (Not snark. Is there a reason?)

    (Insert joke about trading Oliver Perez and his remaining contract to the Angels here.)

    http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/33/baseball-valuations-10_The-Business-Of-Baseball_Rank.html

    http://blogs.forbes.com/mikeozanian/2011/02/01/sny-debt-will-impact-sale-of-new-york-mets/

  16. marinermousse - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:53 AM

    No person in their right mind will buy a minority interest in this club without the option to ultimately have control.

    No person in their right mind will make an investment while the Picard lawsuit is outstanding since a large judgement against the Wilpons, Sterling etc., will leave that investor with a questionable situation since there is no “firewall” between the Wilpons, Katz, Sterling and the Mets.

    No person in their right mind should ever allow Wilpon to make another baseball/business judgement regarding the Mets again (see Omar Minaya!)

    ALL OF THE ABOVE IS MY OPINION

    • paperlions - Feb 27, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      Agree 100%. There is a reason that there are so few people that own such a stake in a team, and those that do are mostly biding their time to buy a controlling interest. Of the 30 or so parties that have allegedly expressed interest in buying such a share in the Mets, I would bet that every single one of them are interested expressly because they think the Wilpons are going to have to sell off the team, field, and probably their stake in SNY; and as part of the deal each would demand the right to buy any additional portion of the team that is up for sale. Yeah, people are interested in 25%, but only as a stepping stone to 51-100%.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:09 AM

        Sorry, but this sounds like such a lame attempt to save face.

        If they eventually get a minority investor — with or without an option to buy the entire club at the discretion of the Wilpons — then all of you who have been saying no one will buy a minority share are wrong.

        You were all saying this a few days ago without the qualifier of the option. Now that the news has come out that there are indeed investors willing to buy a minority share, you are changing your story.

      • paperlions - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:44 AM

        Actually, most of us were saying no such thing at any point. One of the difficulties in having a discussion with you on this topic is that you almost never address the point of contention, instead making some tangential or unrelated argument that you think can be supported or at least not refuted….and if it can be refuted you simply don’t believe the presented evidence.

      • cur68 - Feb 27, 2011 at 2:00 PM

        Baloney chrisny3! No one made any such allusion as a definitive! Go back and read this Phd thesis you’ve all written and you’ll see s that people have been backed into a corner arguing ‘what if’ with you (and only you). Statistically the sample mean should roughly equal the population mean. Thus, roughly, only you think the Wilpons are liquid and will only have to sell a minority interest in the team. Statistically 100% of the posters are in agreement that they LIKELY have their tails in a crack, are accepting money form MLB to stay afloat (which they ARE; seriously who takes that dough when facing lawsuits and associations with Madoff if they aren’t desperate? With share holder behavior being fickle they will devalue, in one form another, so fast you’d think their name was Bre-X), and will LIKELY lose the team and SNY to pay their debts. The wisdom of the crowd is usually right.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 10:43 AM

        paperlions, actually “seeingwhatsticks” WAS saying those things. Quite emphatically I might add. I don’t have time to go back through every Madoff-Wilpon article here, but I’m sure there were others too.

        And I never intentionally avoid anything in a reply. I’m sure you’ve noted how lengthy these discussions can get. So in an effort to keep replies and words to a minimum, I select out the primary points of contention that I take issue with and address them.

        If there are ever any points which you think I’m avoiding, let me know exactly what. I’ll only be too happy to address them. But don’t go making a generalized complaint after the fact.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 10:48 AM

        cur68, the issue wasn’t how much of the team the Wilpons would need to sell. I’ve said it myself here that if they should get a judgment of $1 billion against them, they may have to sell the entire team.

        This specific issue is whether or not anyone would be willing to buy a minority non-controlling interest in the club. Many said that wouldn’t happen. They simply stated it was essentially impossible at this time. They didn’t phrase it as a “what if” scenario,.

        If Greenberg didn’t spin an elaborate lie, well then those who said that are wrong.

  17. paperlions - Feb 27, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Chris, the loan of $25M is from MLB, not a bank. And the loan was a unilateral decision made by Selig.
    .
    The Wilpons have been running the team with borrowed money for a long time. Way back in 2002 they were told by Selig that they had crossed the league’s asset/debt ratio and they were threatened with their league-based revenues (nation TV, merchandise) being placed in an escrow account for a custodian to manage. Since then, they have accumulated even more debt.
    .
    The moving target that is statements made by the Mets show a clear trend. First, they won’t sell anything. Then, suddenly, a whopping 25% is available. Now, a larger stake is available as long as the Wilpons maintain a controlling interest. There was a similar trend in the realization of the connections between investments with Madoff and the running of the team that went from no connection whatsoever to the Madoff money being an integrated and important part of the budget and operation of the Mets.
    .
    This is a team that was in deep trouble last year and couldn’t pay their bills. Now attendance figures to be down even more and interest in the team is flagging….average resale price for Mets tickets last year was $100, so far this year, that figure is $57.

    • cur68 - Feb 27, 2011 at 2:03 PM

      resale ticket prices devalued by HALF! Yeah, having to accept that MLB bailout was real astute. This whole mess is Wilponian.

    • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 11:03 AM

      paperlions, that is incorrect (according to reports). The actual funds are coming from a bank. MLB has a line of credit with banks, and so that is where the money is coming from. And, yes, of course Selig approved the loan, but the money is not coming out of MLB funds.

      As for the 2002 situation, that was when the Wilpons were in negotiations to buy out Doubleday who was still part owner. The 6j0/40 rule was in danger of being broken not because of normal day to day operations, but because of increased debt due an impending sale of the club. Also, the increased debt is due almost entirely to a new stadium which is to be expected. It is pretty common for MLB teams to operate with large debt loads — especially after opening new parks.

      As for the statements being a moving target, again, at the time the statements were made they were accurate. Until this past winter and Picard’s lawsuit, Madoff wasn’t impacting the Mets. And the Wilpons never said Mets finances and Madoff were never intertwined.

      Again, I ask you to give an actual quote from one of the Wilpons if you believe they have lied. Since you seem to think they do it so often, should be easy right?

  18. Reflex - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Because while I don’t think anyone is disputing the right of Picard to claw back net profits, many are taking issue with how he calculated net profits. The Wilpons contend, for example, that he left out in his accounting certain of their Sterling accounts which had losses. If he had included those accounts, the net profits would be significantly smaller.

    Ok, here is where we get somewhere. This assertion is revealing in a few ways:

    1) I am not aware of this specific being reported anywhere. I could be wrong, but honestly I think chrisny is an interested party, whether someone in MLB or just an unusually loyal Mets employee. I do not think he is a fan of the team, a fan knows the Wilpons have been terrible for the team and wants them gone. But an employee maybe not so much.

    2) This is extremely revealing of why there is a dispute.

    3) This also demonstrates exactly why Picard is right and will win.

    If this statement is true, it means the Wilpons want to be seen as a single investor, and have thier profits and losses calculated in that manner. But in reality this is not how it works. Each individual investment account is taken seperately, with its own profits and losses calculated in isolation from each other. By this metric, the Wilpons probably stand to lose a lot more than if they are seen as a single investor.

    That said, in the interest of fairness it has to be done this way. Why, you may ask? Well, because each account is calculated seperatly, if you do things per investor you in effect grant prefferential treatment to the losing accounts of investors who gained the most in other accounts. Basically the Wilpons losing accounts get to recover 100% of their losses simply by taking that money out of the money they made elsewhere, while other investors accounts only recover a fraction of thier losses because they did not have big gains elsewhere to fill in those losses.

    Basically if all accounts that lost money recover 50% off thier losses, the Wilpons want thier losing accounts to recover 100% of their losses on those accounts. That is inherantly unfair. It also presents a method of effectively gaming a ponzi scheme to limit liability when it inevitably breaks down, simply counter every gain with a losing account, if you balanced it correctly at worst you could only break even.

    If this is truly the Wilpons point of contention, they are wrong. Very wrong. And honestly slimy to even suggest it should be accounted that way, effectively attempting to defraud their fellow investors even further than they have already been defrauded.

    They will likely recover a percentage of what is lost in thier losing accounts. But it will be the same percentage every other loser recovers from the pool, and some of that money will be thier own from their winning accounts. Thats how it works for everyone, the Wilpons do not deserve special treatment here.

    • rapmusicmademedoit - Feb 27, 2011 at 5:44 PM

      dude, do you really think someone will read all of this voluntarily on a sunday afternoon, i think it is highly unlikely that any normal human can comprehend the demons in your mind when you intentionally type something so long.

    • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 11:29 AM

      reflex,

      1) Yes, it has been reported elsewhere and so you are wrong. No, I am not an interested party (and I’ve already stated that a few times here when questioned). And, I have been a fan of the team for decades. So your speculation is also wrong here. And while the majority of Mets fans don’t like the Wilpons, I think there could be worse owners. They have not been terrible … just not very good. Somewhere in between.

      2) Huh? I don’t get your point. The quote of mine you used represents just one of the many disputes the Wilpons have with the Picard suit, and it’s not even their biggest beef with his lawsuit. In terms of money being clawed back, it is the smallest part of the lawsuit.

      3) Huh? Can you please explain how this dispute on a small portion of the lawsuit demonstrates how he will win???? BTW, I’ve said many times here that he may win on this small part of the lawsuit, but will not win on the largest part.

      Further …

      4) The way I understand it, Picard is treating all investments under a specific individual/investor (in this case Wilpon/Katz) as an aggregate. And that Wilpon and Katz contend he left certain accounts out in his aggregate accounting. I believe Picard is treating multiple accounts of all Madoff investors in the aggregate. The Wilpons and Katz are no different in this respect.

      5) “Basically if all accounts that lost money recover 50% off thier losses, the Wilpons want thier losing accounts to recover 100% of their losses on those accounts.”

      No, that is not what the Wilpons are saying. They would be happy to be treated the same as other investors and according to established law. What I’m getting from your post is that you really don’t understand the issues here. The main point of contention for the Wilpons over the lawsuit is not about net equity, it’s about Picard’s overreaching attempt to claw back principal based on a novel (in this case) “should have known” allegation. I suggest you dig up some of the older articles and read up on the issue here.

      And, by the way, lots of other investors are taking issue with Picard’s treatment of “net equity,” not just the Wilpons. His actions are already being appealed in a hearing this week before the appeals court. The appeal is being made on behalf of dozens of Madoff investors, and I believe the Wilpons are part of the appeal.

  19. rapmusicmademedoit - Feb 27, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    this amounts to sports welfare,

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