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What should we make of Fred Wilpon’s comments to the New Yorker?

May 23, 2011, 9:35 AM EDT

Fred Wilpon

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.

  1. Paul Zummo - May 23, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    On the other hand, is this anything we haven’t heard from Mets fans and the media that covers them?

    Yes, but these are the types of people who call WFAN and whom most rational Mets fans mock. Of all of the reasons for their recent woes, those three are the least responsible.

    • lordd99 - May 23, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      I agree. While I’m a fan of the “other” team in NY, I always wonder who these Yankee and Met fans are who call up WFAN. I’m convinced they’re not real!

      • yankeesfanlen - May 23, 2011 at 12:11 PM

        The only one I can abide by on WFAN is Steve Somers, and I was surprised last night when he was trying to talk NBA and all the callers overtook the show to talk about the Yankees. So, given that the station broadcasts the Metropolitans, I do think the fix is in.

      • lordd99 - May 23, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        Yankeesfanlen, I do think they overall lean more Mets simply because WFAN is the Mets’ station, although I’d be interested to hear if Mets fans feel that way. Then again, they have to deal with Mike Francesa, who is a Yankee fan. If it makes Mets feel any better, Francesa drives Yankee fan crazy, too.

  2. kopy - May 23, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    I was really tired on the drive to work today, and at the end of the trip I turned on Boomer and Carton (morning sports radio show in NY) and found out about these comments in the first place. The hosts were freaking out about them, and stating that this is a big deal that’s not going to away anytime soon. They also said that if they were these guys, they’d ask to be traded on the spot. Sadly, my journey ended before the call-ins came. Those are always a hoot.

    I’m not saying the radio guys are correct, they’re in the business to drum up activity. However, the media reaction will make this a big deal. It’s going to be like the Posada thing, except actually slightly deserving of the attention. I’m sure everyone will point to this in the winter when Jose Reyes signs somewhere else.

    • mjaugelli - May 23, 2011 at 12:55 PM

      One thing we know about Boomer and Carton (particularly Carton) is they blow everything WAY out of proportion to get a rise out of the fans and motivate more people call and chime in.

  3. Jonny 5 - May 23, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    It always seems that when guys of stature this high, are ready to be cut down at the knees, they always try to point out other guys who they feel also should be “cut down to size”. It’s “chumpy” for a lack of a more eloquent expression that fits as well.

  4. scottj27 - May 23, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    If I were a Mets fan? I’d be annoyed he slammed Beltran’s contract and made no mention of K-rod’s.

  5. kingkillerstudios - May 23, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    [face-palm] The issue I have with the comments is the tone Wilpon takes — as though he’s not the one responsible for the shittiness, but is instead a victim of it. I do appreciate a non-Pollyanna take on the situation from someone inside it, in theory, but in practice, 1) the team isn’t even that bad, comparatively; and 2) if it is, it’s ON HIM in the first place.

    As a Met fan, frankly, I dread the next few days of discussion about this, because it’s all going to focus on “wah wah wah he needs to support his guys,” and to me that’s not the point. He needs to know eff-all about baseball before approving crap moves like the Bay acquisition, and when he doesn’t, and those moves don’t work out, he needs to stop acting like he got robbed.

    • lordd99 - May 23, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      Ignore the back pages of the tabloids and the sports talk shows for the next couple days.

  6. Reflex - May 23, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    Wonder if this means he put a muzzle on Jeff. He hasn’t been commenting on the last few Mets stories….

  7. Joe - May 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    “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?”

    Isn’t this a strawman argument? There’s a wide range of possiblilities between “we are fantastic and posititioned for greatness” and “we’re a shitty team.” Same with “Carlos Beltran’s contract was a bargain” and “I was a schmuck for signing him to that contract.” There are ways of saying the truth without sounding like a douchebag.

  8. yankeesfanlen - May 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    After reading the entire article, my take on Fred Wilpon is that, as a businessman, he is myopic and naive. After an early career of stumbling into real estate at a good time (unbeknownst to him) and having more money than he could invest in his chosen field due to whatever expansion efforts he didn’t undertake, he stuck that money with an old acquaintance (Madoff)
    So Fred, happy with returns for years, has someone whisper in his ear the old “Not all eggs in one basket” axiom, and hires Stamos a decade ago to start his own parallel fund. Still showing no acumen in the financial field, Stamos maybe did, maybe didn';t warn him about Madoff, and perhaps, if Fred heard the warning, he may have disregarded it as: a)Stamos just wants more power or b) Bernie’s an old friend now, he can’t be a crook.
    So Fred is left with the pride of his life to attend to fully: The New York Mats.
    Believe it or not, that doesn’t come across to me as an indictable offense.

  9. mcsoxerhoff - May 23, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    The bottom line with this is that he is acting like a fan as opposed to the guy running the show.

    If the team is shitty, it’s his fault, he has hired the previous couple Front Offices (Minaya, Duquette, Phillips) and whistled dixie as they drove the team into the ground. Only now he has an issue?

    And this could possibly have implications in the trade market for Reyes and Beltran, which only undercuts the current GM.

    The whole thing is a joke.

  10. Old Gator - May 23, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    I think it’s fair to say that whatever his ballplayers might have done wrong, their precadilloes pale compared to Wilpon’s choice of an investment manager.

    • Old Gator - May 23, 2011 at 11:18 AM

      He – pecadilloes. Nice morning for inadvertent neologisms, eh?

      • cur68 - May 23, 2011 at 11:21 AM

        That Wilponian mess is just asking for it.

  11. Chris Fiorentino - May 23, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    I posted the below comment in the other blog posting…what do I have to do…read everything current before commenting ;) I still disagree and think that David Wright is a superstar 3rd baseman, and that pains me a lot to say because I hate the Mutts. But he is what he is…a 30/100 guy with a .300 BA and a career .900 OPS. If that ain’t a superstar, then what is?????

    “This article, to me, shows why the Mutts have become what they are. When you have the owner of the team whining that “Reyes wants Crawford money…he won’t get it” and he calls his superstar 3rd baseman, “Not a superstar”, how does that attitude not trickle down from the top?

    I mean…I read those quotes and thought “What an asshole this guy is” Weird that Craig would actually take this “Wilpon seems like a very nice and thoughtful man who truly loves baseball” from the article when I couldn’t get past the other fluffy stuff about him. A baseball team should be a team…I understand that everybody doesn’t have to like each other or hang out with each other. But if it comes down to defending each other, it should be like a family, from the ownership to the freaking bat boy. And for Wilpon to say this is both irresponsible and being a dick. Not to mention he is flat-out wrong, at least about David Wright.

    (damn, did I just defend David Wright?)”

    • sdelmonte - May 23, 2011 at 12:30 PM

      Yes, you did. In exchange, I as a Mets now owe you one defense of a Phillie later.

  12. uuddlrlrbastart - May 23, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    I posted something similar in the other post, but I think the majority of Mets fans are going to agree with almost everything Wilpon has said. Since it’s New York this will obviously make headlines and dominate the New York sports world for the next couple of days. But I think it’ll be mostly the media driving the story rather than the fans, who already see David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran in the same light as Wilpon.

  13. thejokewriter - May 23, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Talk about a crappy team…A black cat turned my Cubs 8 game lead with 6 weeks to go to lose the Pennant to the Mets eons ago at Shea. You think Wilpon is a prick…I think P.K. Wrigley’s comments in ’69 blows him out of the water.

  14. xpensivewinos - May 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    He was drunk.

    • henryd3rd - May 23, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      Was he drunk?

  15. royhobbs39 - May 23, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    Best line of the entire article:

    “The first time Bernie Madoff called me, the grinding sounds of a floor buffer in the background nearly drowned him out. “It’s a prison,” Madoff said. “You wouldn’t think they need to wax the floors every day.”

  16. thefalcon123 - May 23, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Seriously?!?! He’s complaining that Beltran struck out to end the 06′ NLCS? Beltran hit 3 home runs and posted a 1.054 OPS that series, not to mention his spectacular 8 WAR regular season. Yeah, he struck out at a bad time, it happens. But that one strikeout was not the reason the Mets lost that series. In fact, Beltran is a huge reason it even went to 7 games.

  17. gogigantos - May 23, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    all this trash talk for a team that mostly contended and came that close to a World Series,, many a fan would love all that,,, so so so much sour grapes from a slew of sour fans. why not surprised?

  18. henryd3rd - May 23, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Only George Steinbrenner could take shots at his players in NYC and get away with it. And that was because he had a number of World Series Championship Trophies in his trophy case. Fred must have felt that because he and that reporter were Mets fans that their conversation was off the record. Wrong! Old WWII memo, “Loose lips sink ships”. Having said that what Fred said is just what most Mets’ fans have being saying for years. The Beltran’s signing was a mistake, Reyes will not get Crawford money and David Wright is not a superstar. Funny he never said anything negative about Johan Santana.

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