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Mets owners lose a key battle in the Madoff mess

Aug 17, 2011, 8:25 AM EDT

File image of New York Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon talking to reporters at a news conference in New York Reuters

A federal appeals court yesterday gave some bad news to Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz: the bankruptcy trustee’s calculation of how much Madoff money they have to return was upheld — and Wilpon and Katz’s much lower calculation denied — meaning that they have to fork over $300 million.

To be clear: this is a separate issue from the “Wilpon and Katz should have known it was a scam” claims that the trustee has been advancing and for which he is seeking some $700 million.  That will be taken up Friday in another hearing and, based on some previous indications from the judge, the trustee has an uphill climb in establishing that Wilpon and Katz should be on the hook for that.

But even though this is much smaller in dollars and does not touch on any culpability on the part of the Mets’ owners, it ain’t exactly good news for them either. At least, assuming they don’t have a spare $300 million laying around.

  1. kiwicricket - Aug 17, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    This might turn out to be a pretty crappy week for Fred.

    • Old Gator - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:09 AM

      Maybe Frank McCourt can hook him up with some fast cash. He seems pretty good at that. Score one for Jean-Luc in the meantime, though.

  2. Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    So, does this mean Einhorn gets to buy another third of the team?

    • paperlions - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:23 AM

      Probably. What was the price for that again? $1?

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:29 AM

        The discount rate on $200 million over three years.

  3. aleskel - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    I just want to be assured that Sandy Koufax is getting back the money he lost to Madoff. To me, the worst thing Wilpon did was get Sandy involved with that crook. Not cool, man, not cool.

  4. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    I have a hard time understanding this, Craig. Where does the judge get this number from and what separates it from the case in which the trustee claims Wilpon should have done his due diligence?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:59 PM

      There are two separate claims (think of them as separate cases, even though they technically aren’t) going on here:

      1. One that simply says “Madoff stole people’s money and gave it to other investors, and now the money has to be redistributed to the victims.” There isn’t fault at play here. No one is accusing the people who have to repay of malfeasance. It’s just a matter of udoing the scam as much as can be undone. That’s where this $300 million comes in. The Wilpons were early investors and got a lot of later investors given to them unwittingly. This part is to try to get that back. In doing so, the bankruptcy trustee set forth an argument of how to calculate how much the Wilpons have to give back, the Wilpons, not surprisingly, suggested a different way to calculate which causes them to have to pay back less. Here, the trustee has won.

      2. The other case — the due dilligence case — is a separate claim in which the trustee is saying that the Wilpons knew or should have known it was a scam and thus are liable for far more money than merely the amount that Madoff gave them back as investment returns. With penalities and puntitive measures included, that is now a $700 million claim. It will, however, be a much harder claim for the trustee to make, and many believe that he won’t be able to make it.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:21 PM

        Ok thanks. I also don’t think there’s a chance a baseball owner will be held financially accountable for not doing due diligence when nobody on Wall Street or anywhere else in the world bothered to either

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:15 PM

        Craig your anti-Mets/anti-Wilpon bias is once again being made clear. Get your information only from the Mets and their trusted sources and ignore that rag newspaper with their shoddy, one-sided reporting.

  5. chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    “…meaning that they have to fork over $300 million.”

    Not necessarily. According to reports, the Mets owners have also taken issue with how Picard applied his own formula to their particular case. They claim he left off accounts which had net losses. So it remains to be seen what they will end up paying in terms of net profits. If their argument has legs, they could end up paying substantially less than $300 million. They will fight in court over that too.

    At any rate, I always said Wilpon & Katz may have to pay some of the net profits back, but that Picard would lose on the “should have known” part of the suit. Looks like that may be the case. Picard so far is not faring too well in federal district court.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      Just like how the Wilpons wouldn’t have to sell a portion of the franchise at a discounted price and with a path for the minority owner to become the majority owner? Doesn’t this ruling say that Picard’s formula is the one the court agrees with?

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:21 PM

        Never, ever, question chrisny3’s ability to spin a negative into a positive for the Wilpons.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:29 PM

        Too funny, sticky. I love it how you can’t get my position accurate (you’ve done this in the past) … or is your straw man tactic on purpose because you know I’m right so that’s your only way to argue?

        I never once said that the Wilpons wouldn’t have to sell a portion of the club at a “discounted price.” And I don’t think $200 million for a 17% stake of the team is much of a discount. As a matter of fact, considering the team debt, I think it’s a rather generous deal for the Wilpons (initially).

        I also never once said that there would be no path to majority ownership in any deal. What I did say is that there would be no guaranteed path to majority ownership in any deal. And there is none in this deal (as currently reported).

        If you can pull up any quotes to support what you’re fantasizing about what I said, then go ahead. Make my day.

        On the other hand, you once said:

        “There’s also no way interest in a minority share of the Mets, while they are still controlled and operated by the Wilpons, can possibly be strong. I am not an investment guy, and not really a businessman, and even I know that would be an insanely stupid investment. Just preposterously dumb. Why would I give the Wilpons $250 million for a 25% interest.”

        LMAO … fact of the matter is that interest was strong. Over 24 parties initially inquired with Steve Greenberg, and about a dozen of those parties were subsequently passed on to MLB for further vetting. And, fact of the matter is, they did find someone to buy a 17% stake in the club for $200 million. Now they do have to pay that money back in 5 years, but considering the deal was initially favorable to the Wilpons, then it’s a wash at the end.

        As for the court ruling, read my initial comment more carefully I’m not talking about the validity of the formula. I’m talking about the validity of how the formula was applied specifically to the Mets owners’ accounts. They maintain Picard applied his own formula incorrectly.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:33 PM

        “Never, ever, question chrisny3′s ability to spin a negative into a positive for the Wilpons.”

        And one should never, ever question the arrogant Yankee-centric views of Kevin S. or his anti-Mets spin on any Wilpon story. Never!

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:52 PM

        Anti-Mets spin? I want to see the Mets respectable again, worthy of being a cross-town rival. ‘Tis why I’m a big fan of what Sandy Alderson’s doing, and why I’m happy David Einhorn will own the team in a few years. Or have you figured out how Wilpon is going to turn tens of millions of losses a year into enough scratch to pay of Picard, JP Morgan Chase, AND buy Einhorn back out? Because they didn’t sell 17% of the team – they gave it away as interest on a $100 million loan (the other $100 million is earning cash interest, not equity).

        And for the record, you’re the only one who has the free time to search back through months old quotes and dig up exactly what was said. But go ahead and deny that you thought the Mets would easily be able to get a minority partner and wouldn’t get stuck with a sucker deal. Keep denying that you said the Wilpons would definitely be able to keep the team. I guess we’re all just mis-remembering, right?

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:57 PM

        “However, the best course of action from the beginning would have been to settle this as quickly and quietly as possible, even if the Wilpons had to spend more then they thought they should have to in order to get it done. In my opinion, the cost of whatever they would have had to hand over pales in comparison to the damage done by all of this being made public. Like I said, they were either stubborn, unable to pay, or got some of the worst legal and PR advice of all time.”

        Sticky, here is another gem from you back in February. I guess you’ve missed the recent news about Picard getting slammed around in federal district court. And while Rakoff hasn’t ruled on the major portion of the Mets’ suit yet, it appears he will rule in their favor and lop off at least 70% of the claims.

        Good thing you are not a defense lawyer. All your clients would end up guilty and in the slammer. Or destitute.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:07 PM

        I guess you’ve missed the recent news about Picard getting slammed around in federal district court.

        What, the part about him being denied standing to pursue common-law claims against two international corportations? Yup, totally relevant to the Wilpons’ case.

        And the merry-go-round keeps on spinning. I’m surprised the Mets can afford to keep paying you, given how much in hock they are.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:21 PM

        “Or have you figured out how Wilpon is going to turn tens of millions of losses a year into enough scratch to pay of Picard, JP Morgan Chase, AND buy Einhorn back out?”

        First off, the proceeds from the sale are going to pay off that debt. About 70 million of it. So there won’t be all that debt 5 years from now when they have to pay Einhorn back. Second, a lot of the losses stem from underperforming contracts which they’ve already lopped off the payroll for next year. Third, in five years, the team valuation will likely be at least 30% more. So they can sell off an additional 17%, and probably get more than $200 million for it, pay Einhorn back, and still retain majority ownership.

        “they gave it away as interest on a $100 million loan (the other $100 million is earning cash interest, not equity).”

        It’s a matter of semantics. They had to restructure the language to appease the banks to whom they owed money. It’s essentially a $200 million five year loan with 17% of the team as the cost of that loan. As for how they are going to use the money, that has not changed from initial reports last winter. It was always going to be 50% to repay debt, and 50% to cover operating expenses this year and for the next few.

        “And for the record, you’re the only one who has the free time to search back through months old quotes and dig up exactly what was said.”

        For the record, I don’t do that.What I started to do here early on was bookmark every single thread in which discussion like this took place precisely because my words and positions were frequently being misquoted and mischaracterized. By folks like you and sticky. Can you blame me?

        “But go ahead and deny that you thought the Mets would easily be able to get a minority partner and wouldn’t get stuck with a sucker deal. ”

        Reading issues, Kevin? Drinking too much? Where have I ever denied this? I’m not denying it now or ever. First off, the Mets got a minority partner in less than a year. I think that was pretty fast. The NY Times has been trying to sell 17% of the Red Sox for years and have so far been unsuccessful. The Astros have tried to sell their team for years and couldn’t come to a deal sooner. Second, I think it’s a pretty good deal for both the Wilpons and Einhorn. The Mets got what they wanted … and Einhorn got something. It was a deal none of you Wilpon critics would have predicted back in February.

        “Keep denying that you said the Wilpons would definitely be able to keep the team.”

        Whoa! There you go again. Do you have serious senior issues. LOL, I never denied I ever said the Wilpons would be able to keep the team. And in case you’re on LSD, the Wilpons still own the Mets. And will probably STILL be the owners in 5 years when they have to pay Einhorn back.

        You have some delusional mind there, Kevin!

      • ltzep75 - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:07 PM

        Well, well, well…what do we have here?

        I seemed to have missed this little article/tiff today.

        I just want to address one quick point regarding “Picard getting slammed around” in SDNY. The rulings (i) have little to no applicability to the claim against the mets, and (ii) may be overturned (I’m no bankruptcy expert, but it seems to me that a trustee steps into the shoes of the creditors (victims) and possesses all of their rights).

        As Chrisny3 – if you’re so confident that the Wilpons will retain a majority stake, care to place a little wager on it? Nothing crazy, more like a Randolph and Mortimer Duke one dollar gentleman’s bet.

        [Please note that most of this post was merely so I could make a Duke brothers joke].

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:35 PM

        If interest in buying a minority interest in the Mets was so strong why did the Wilpons give away a path to majority ownership when they said in the beginning that was not on the table? When you have strong interest you can dictate terms, and as Kevin says below the Wilpons didn’t get the terms they had publicly stated they were looking for. So yes, I still stand by my statements that nobody smart enough to accumulate the kind of wealth it would take to buy into the Mets would just hand over money to the Wilpons with no strings attached, and that interest in doing so was never “strong” unless you’re using the broadest possible definition of “interest.” Einhorn is giving the Wilpons 5 years to turn things around and then he can either be first in line to buy the team or walk away with all of his original investment. How is that a good deal for the Wilpons? They mortgaged their future to deal with the present, and that always ends well.

        Yes bad contracts have hurt the Mets, no doubt, and they got rid of 1 of them (K-Rod) but where’s the talent that will make this team competitive at a lower price? Whatever they saved by dumping K-Rod’s option will all go towards Reyes unless they let him go, which will make them a worse team. They got Wheeler for Beltran but didn’t save any money and Sabean, for all his faults, doesn’t have a record of giving up pitching prospects that became quality MLB starters. The Mets are bleeding attendance and I don’t see how they make that up short of slashing ticket prices or fielding a better team, and they still don’t have the ability to field a cheap yet competitive team in the immediate future. I think if Alderson had 5 years he could put together a solid mix of prospects and veterans that could be competitive for around $100 million but if it takes 5 years to implement that plan the Wilpons won’t be around to reap the benefits.

        As for the 17% of the Red Sox the Times has been trying to sell you’re glossing over 2 things:
        1. The Times doesn’t have the majority share of the Sox and therefore can’t offer a path to majority ownership in any sort of sale the way Einhorn got in his deal.
        2. It’s possible the Times isn’t as desperate to sell that stake as the Wilpons were to sell there’s, and thus aren’t willing to take the first viable offer that they come across. As long as the Sox are turning a profit and the valuation of their share continues to rise they don’t HAVE to sell the way the Wilpons did.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:56 PM

        itzep, while there are different issues involved with the lawsuit against the Mets, I would not go so far as to say there are no similarities. What they have in common is a trustee who has overstepped his bounds and is being put into his place by a federal court. As for the rulings being overturned, it’s not even clear if Picard will appeal. From what I hear, other recent rulings around the country have been going against bankruptcy trustees as federal judges rule it is not their place to venture outside of standard bankruptcy law.

        I’m not only confident Picard will lose on the “should have known” part of his suit, but also that Wilpon-Katz will still own the Mets in five years (if they wish to keep doing so). IOW, they will have the financial wherewithal to pay Einhorn back his $200 million. And I would be more than happy to make a bet with you on this. Name your terms, as long as they are reasonable. I am unfamiliar with the Duke brothers.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 8:48 PM

        sticky, the Mets never said they wouldn’t give a prospective buyer a chance (at their option) to gain majority ownership in the future. Never. I challenge you to support your constant distortion of others’ statements with actual quotes instead of just pulling things out of your apparently faulty memory or your ass. But I know you can’t. What the Mets owners did say is that a majority piece of the team wasn’t for sale now, and it wasn’t. They also said they fully intended to remain majority owners long-term. So far there is nothing standing in their way (assuming Picard loses his 700 million grab, which I fully expect).

        The Mets owners got the terms they wanted. If you feel otherwise, prove it with a quote from the Wilpons that shows they were explicitly looking for something else.

        You are wrong and can’t admit it. Your quotes that I pulled out show that you thought no one would pluck down $200 million now for 17% of the team at the Mets terms.

        The Mets got the short term large cash infusion they needed and all they had to give up with 17% of the team. I remember many of you were saying the Wilpons would have to give up 51% of the team now. You were wrong. They had two goals when they looked for a buyer. One, find a large infusion of cash for the short term and, two, retain majority ownership. They did both. They got what they wanted.

        As for the bad contracts, no, K-Rod wasn’t the only one. They also get Castillo and Perez off the books for next year. That’s a savings of $33 million right there. Or roughly half the reported debt the Mets had this year. If you don’t know the team, you shouldn’t pretend to speak about its finances.

        Beltran’s $18 salary also comes off the books next year, but I’m assuming they will use that money for other purposes, whether it’s for Reyes or to bolster the bullpen. As for Sabean and the Wheeler deal, looks like the Mets got the better end of that so far, doesn’t it? Sure it’s too early to judge, but Beltran is already on the DL, and his impact for the Giants is limited to just this year. OTOH, the mets have gotten Wheeler, one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball, to prop up their system. Very savvy move by Alderson. A winner it appears.

        LOL, the Mets aren’t bleeding attendance. They are only down a few thousand from last year, and even the Yankees are down a few thousand. The economy is bad. Many teams have lower attendance from last year.

        There are a lot of good pitching prospects down on the Mets farm. Now that the bad contracts are gone, giving Alderson flexibility he didn’t have last winter, things should be a lot better next year. With the debt paid down via the sale, I think the Mets finances will improve significantly going forward and the Wilpons will be able to retain majority ownership long term beyond 2016 when they have to pay Einhorn back.

        As for the NYT’s sale of their share of the Red Sox, the Mets didn’t offer any guaranteed path to majority ownership, so I don’t think that differs much from the NYT’s not having majority ownership to peddle. It appears the NYT’s isn’t getting any offers they like as it’s been 2-3 full years already and they’re still stuck with that 17%. But there is a big difference between the two situations — the Red Sox are reportedly more financially stable than the Mets. And also more successful in the standings the last few years. So one would expect suitors to be lining up around the block to snap up that share in days. Not years. Given the short time frame in which the Mets sold their minority share (about 5-6 months to settle on a buyer) I would say that was very fast and interest was high.

        Bottom line, sticky, is that I believe you were wrong. And your own words prove it.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:12 PM

        You said, numerous times, that the Mets wouldn’t allow a minority owner a path to majority ownership as part of the sale and they did that. It may technically be their option, but if they decline Einhorn majority ownership in 5 yars they have to buy him out and if the Mets had $200 million with which to buy out Einhorn they wouldn’t have needed his money in the first place.

        I never said Wheeler wasn’t a highly regarded prospect, what I said was that Sabean’s track record in deciding which pitching prospects to trade and which ones to keep is very strong. The only pitching prospect he’s given up during his Giants tenure that has become a quality starting pitcher at the MLB level is Liriano, and Liriano had Tommy John surgery so Sabean’s concerns about mechanics and health weren’t totally unwarranted. I think the price he paid for Beltran was too high but based on Sabean’s history I’m willing to believe he knows something we may not about Wheeler and was looking to sell high. The Giants gave up one of their two top pitching prospects at the time (Bumgarner and Alderson) for Freddy Sanchez in a move that most Giants fans hated but a glance at Alderson’s minor league stats since the trade shows that Sabean was right about which guy to keep and which guy to save. The Giants have traded one of their top pitching prospects multiple times over Sabean’s tenure and they haven’t been wrong.

        As has been stated below, the Mets are bleeding attendance. They’re down 20% since 2009 and while I would believe that the economy would play a role in that in smaller markets I don’t really buy it in NY (plus, check out all the teams that are up from last year). Sagging attendance is most likely due to ticket prices that are too high and a team that is not competitive.

        You clearly see the glass not half full but “mostly” full, and if you want to be completely out of touch with reality that’s your right I suppose. The facts say that the Wilpons are still in trouble they’ve just bought themselves a few years to try and find a solution, and the facts say that while the Mets have some nice prospects most (including Wheeler) are still 2-3 years away from having a real impact. I said earlier that the Mets need to be inexpensive and competitive quickly if the Wilpons have any chance of being able to buy out Einhorn in 5 years and none of your arguments have convinced me that’s the most likely outcome.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:58 PM

        You are absolutely wrong about that, sticky. Again, instead of trying to distort everything I say, prove it with a quote. You can’t. I was always very careful to say that the Mets would offer no “guaranteed” path to majority ownership. And I was right. There is no guaranteed path to majority ownership for Einhorn. I’m sorry you’re not man enough to admit you were wrong. That’s your problem.

        Just because the Mets don’t have $200 million in spare change now doesn’t mean they won’t have it in 5 years. At the very least, they could sell an additional 17% of the team in five years and probably get more than $200 million because of a higher valuation and reduced franchise debt by then. One cannot conclude they won’t have that money (or assets to sell) then.

        As for Sabean/Wheeler, even if Wheeler turns out to be just a back-of-rotation starter, the Mets will still have come out ahead. If they kept Betran, they would have gotten no trade picks back when he left for free agency. It was a clear win for Alderson. And the reason Sabean gave up Wheeler was because Alderson held his ground. Reportedly it was either Wheeler or Brown. And with the Giants weak offense, Sabean gave in. Even I was surprised at the haul as I expected only a team’s top 10 … not one of their top 2. As for Sabean’s track record of not trading prospects who pan out, there is always a first time. And we all know Nathan (though not a prospect) was a mistake of Sabean’s.

        Also, the Mets are not bleeding attendance. How is a drop of 2,800 from the previous year bleeding attendance? And of course the economy is a factor. Attendance in MLB is down this year more than it is up. And the Yankees are down by 1,600 from last year, so it would seem NY is not immune, especially since the Yankees are the WC leaders.

        No, I don’t see the glass mostly full. You are wrong about that too. I see the glass about 70% full. And I believe you see the glass 70% empty. That’s your opinion. I think you are wrong.

        The facts say that the Wilpons are still in financial trouble technically until Rakoff throws Picard out on his ass over the ludicrous $700 million grab. But it’s just a matter of time before he does so, and I believe the Wilpons will survive. And just like you’ve been proven wrong over the minority sale, you will be proven wrong over this too.

        I believe with Alderson’s management, the Mets will be much more competitive as soon as next year. This year they’ve been hampered by both huge injuries and bad contracts. While no one can foresee whether the bad luck with injuries will continue, the bad contracts have come to an end for the most part, and will afford Alderson the ability to get some needed pieces over the winter. Also, some of the more impressive arms and position players down on the farm this year should be ready to contribute as soon as the middle of next year. Your time frame of 2-3 years is on the long side.

        Based on this, as well as the fact that the Wilpons have a lot of other assets which you are totally unaware of, I believe they will be able to retain majority ownership in 5 years — if they choose to do so. Nothing you have said makes a convincing argument to the contrary. It’s just your speculation, guesswork, opinion and, sadly, distortions of other people’s positions.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:36 PM

        “I believe with Alderson’s management, the Mets will be much more competitive as soon as next year.”

        Bahahahahaha. Well there goes what little was left of your credibility.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:18 PM

        Why? Because you neglected to add that Alderson will have flexibility to spend money that he didn’t have last year to add pieces? Or that some of the better pitching prospects may be ready to contribute as soon as the middle of 2012? Your omissions, along with your inability or unwillingness to support your distorted and inaccurate versions of what people actually say has left you with no credibility.

  6. Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    First off, the proceeds from the sale are going to pay off that debt. About 70 million of it. So there won’t be all that debt 5 years from now when they have to pay Einhorn back. Second, a lot of the losses stem from underperforming contracts which they’ve already lopped off the payroll for next year. Third, in five years, the team valuation will likely be at least 30% more. So they can sell off an additional 17%, and probably get more than $200 million for it, pay Einhorn back, and still retain majority ownership.

    They owe JP Morgan Chase a lot more than $70 million (I think I read something like $430 million in three years). They’re going to owe Picard a lot of money, even if the court does accept that their net-loser accounts should be credited against their net winnings and rejects the $700 billion clawback claims. They owe Einhorn the $100 million loan and the $30 million interest on that loan, in addition to the $100 million equity they’d have to repay him to buy him out.

    Their losses aren’t just under-performing contracts. They’re down 20,000 (!) fans per game from 2008. Those fans aren’t going to come back until the team shows them something. Alderson’s good, but he knows that quick-fixes aren’t the answer, and the amount of the contracts dumped won’t cover their losses by themselves. Further, the Mets don’t need to get back to breaking even, they need to be making nine figures a year if they want to pay off their debts (and seventeen percent of that won’t even be theirs). Team valuation might be up in five years (pretty optimistic considering this economy), but why would the Mets get $200 million for the next chunk of the team they sell off? They basically got $30 million (the interest they didn’t have to pay on the non-loan $100 million) and gave a majority ownership option away. They won’t be able to do that again, and Einhorn could pretty easily negotiate a better deal for whoever would want to buy in if they don’t give the Wilpons the capital to buy him out, since he’s a hell of a lot better capitalized than they are. It’s a pipe dream that the Mets can afford to keep their team in five years.

    The Wilpons didn’t get what they wanted, because barring Bernanke running the next set of currency devaluation by dropping several hundred billion in Queens, they won’t be able to keep their team in five years. It’s actually the horrible deal for the Wilpons that all of us predicted.

    (Oh, and keeping every single thread bookmarked? Totally not manic obsessive or anything)

    Any basic understanding of economics would lead you to understand the Wilpons will lose the Mets when it comes time to buy Einhorn out, if not sooner. Too bad that doesn’t fit the spin machine.

  7. chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    What, the part about him being denied standing to pursue common-law claims against two international corportations? Yup, totally relevant to the Wilpons’ case.

    It is totally relevant, and it’s not just two corporations. It’s 3 big banks so far, and what the cases have in common is Picard overstepping his bounds as a bankruptcy trustee to pursue these claims and being squashed so far in every ruling by the federal court which has gutted these suits. The handwriting is on the wall for most of the big lawsuits remaining, and it looks bad for him. While Rakoff has yet to rule on the Mets, it looks like he will be gutting that lawsuit as well. I’m going to bet on it. I’m even more confident about that now than I was last February when I kept saying Picard will lose on the “should have known part”

    “I’m surprised the Mets can afford to keep paying you, given how much in hock they are.”

    I’m surprised that you are so bereft of ideas that you keep trotting out that tired old lame line. You are comically wrong. Just like when you accused me of using multiple usernames here and being someone called purdueman. LOL. Try again.

    They owe Einhorn the $100 million loan and the $30 million interest on that loan, in addition to the $100 million equity they’d have to repay him to buy him out.

    Huh? From what’s been reported, they will owe him 200 million in five years to retain majority ownership. Not $230 million. Where are you getting that? Another senior moment?

    As for the money they owe Chase & other parties, that debt will be paid down by 70 million after the sale and will be paid off even further with other revenues in the future.

    They’re down 20,000 (!) fans per game from 2008.

    LOL, a bogus and ignorant point. The capacity of the new stadium is about 15,000 less than Shea. So even if they sold out every game at Citi, attendance would be down by at least around15,000 per game. The higher ticket prices and more extensive concession revenues to a large degree make up for that difference in stadium capacity. And to be accurate, the decline in attendance for the Mets from 2008 is about 20,000/game. But even the Yankees are down about 8,000 per game from 2008 levels. Are you that ignorant or did you think no one would notice the different stadium capacities?

    Further, the Mets don’t need to get back to breaking even, they need to be making nine figures a year if they want to pay off their debts

    Huh? Part of their annual costs include debt payments. If they break even, then they are paying off that debt and it will be lowered every year.

    Team valuation might be up in five years (pretty optimistic considering this economy), but why would the Mets get $200 million for the next chunk of the team they sell off? They basically got $30 million (the interest they didn’t have to pay on the non-loan $100 million) and gave a majority ownership option away.

    Not optimistic at all if you’ve been following Forbes valuations and the valuations of teams as they’re being sold recently (Rangers, Astros, Cubs). The valuations of MLB teams have been shooting up almost every year. The Mets got 200 million, gave up 17% of the club as an interest payment and were able to do so without any guaranteed path to majority ownership for the buyer. Sweet deal. Especially since almost all the so-called experts said the Wilpons wouldn’t be able to do it without giving up a piece of SNY.

    In five years, with the increased valuation and reduced debt, I believe the Mets would get much more than $200 million for 17% of the club. Considering there were over 24 parties interested in buying a piece of the Mets this year, when they were in a distressed state, I believe they’ll have an even easier time five years from now.

    Einhorn could pretty easily negotiate a better deal for whoever would want to buy in if they don’t give the Wilpons the capital to buy him out,

    Not if the Wilpons sweeten the deal with a small part of SNY or a stake greater than 17%. All Einhorn will have to peddle in five year is his own 17% share.

    The Wilpons didn’t get what they wanted, because barring Bernanke running the next set of currency devaluation by dropping several hundred billion in Queens, they won’t be able to keep their team in five years. It’s actually the horrible deal for the Wilpons that all of us predicted.

    They absolutely got what they wanted. Which was a large short-term cash infusion for a minority stake. No SNY. And no guaranteed path to majority ownership for the buyer. You’re delusional to think it’s a bad deal for them. But I guess you have to say that now since you were wrong from the start about the Wilpons not finding a minority investor. None of you predicted anything like this when you were bashing the Wilpons back in February.

    Oh, and keeping every single thread bookmarked? Totally not manic obsessive or anything

    Wow, I didn’t know you would find it such a challenge to bookmark a single page a few times a week (back in February) and a few times a month in recent months. Because that’s the extent I’ve been posting here. I feel bad that you are so … uh, challenged this way by simply making bookmarks. Poor Kevin.

    Any basic understanding of economics would lead you to understand the Wilpons will lose the Mets when it comes time to buy Einhorn out, if not sooner. Too bad that doesn’t fit the spin machine.

    Any rational person would be a damn fool to make such a wild prediction based on nothing more than a very llimited understanding of the Mets’ current financial situation and the assets of Sterling Enterprises and the Mets owners. Too bad that doesn’t fit into your anti-Wilpon spin machine.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:55 PM

      The Mets are down almost 3k fans per game from last year despite having an identical number of wins to this point in the season.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/current_attendance.shtml

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 8:53 PM

        That’s actually quite a small drop considering what some predicted. And the Yankees have a drop of roughly 1600/game this year. And they’re the WC leader right now. The economy is having a negative impact at the gate. Attendance in MLB is down more than it is up.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 17, 2011 at 8:59 PM

        Except that the Mets are down 8k per game since 2010 and the only teams down more this season are the Dodgers, Rays, and Mariners.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:01 PM

        Huh? You can’t even read the information in your own link properly. Go look at it.

        The Mets are down just 2,800 from last year. Not 8K. And that 2,800 drop is not out of line with a struggling economy which has also seen the Yankees drop 1,600 a game from last year.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:33 PM

        Sorry, 8k since 2009. That’s 20% in 2 years.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:30 PM

        But with a drop of 2,800 from last year, that’s not bleeding attendance. Attendance will improve with improved performance next year. Once they made a decision to trade K-Rod and Beltran this year, attendance, which had been on the upswing in recent months from earlier in the year, was not going to improve. In fact Alderson took a big risk that team performance would get worse costing them attendance this year. And team performance has gotten worse since the trade. He sacrificed short-term success for longer term goals. And he made the right move.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:49 PM

        Yeah, no you’re right. Losing 600k fans in 2 years isn’t bleeding attendance and certainly doesn’t impact the bottom line at all. That makes perfect sense. I love the way you argue over terminology not fact. Next year we’ll get to argue over whether the stadium is half full or half empty.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 18, 2011 at 12:08 AM

        Wow, you really do like to pull things out of your ass and make things up. Where did I say that an attendance shift doesn’t impact the bottom line? And I said that they weren’t “bleeding attendance” from last year (not from 2009), which is true. I don’t consider a drop of 2,800 in a year in which they were transitioning to a new GM “bleeding attendance.” That’s a pretty funny term you picked out there.

        Words represent facts. When YOU distort words and what people say, you attempt to distort the facts. Which is to be expected seeing how you’ve been so wrong about all this from the beginning. And what’s ironic is tyour own words (as I quoted) prove you are wrong, and that’s why you run from them. I suspect next year we’ll be arguing over you once again trying to distort what people have actually said.

        P.S. Since you have such a hard time recollecting what I actually say and tend to then make it up, I suggest for your own benefit you bookmark this thread and any others in which we end up discussing things. That way you can pull out actual quotes (FACT) next time instead of fiction that you wish I had said. Really, bookmarking a thread isn’t taxing at all to most people of normal intelligence, contrary to what Kevin S. would have one believe. Takes one second. Learn how to use your browser’s bookmarks.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 18, 2011 at 10:29 AM

        Actually, you said “LOL, the Mets aren’t bleeding attendance.” They’re down 20,000/game from three years ago, 8,000/game from two years ago, and 1,500/game from last year. Despite the fact that Citi Field is smaller, they’ve never sold it out over the course of a season, so capacity had little impact on the attendance numbers. Further, the entire logic of going to a small park (higher prices from reduced demand) was shot to hell when the Mets had to slash prices because nobody was going to see them. But see, instead of acknowledging the correct point that the Mets attendance has fallen off, you instead restricted your comparison to these last two seasons to make everything seem like it’s all hunky dory. Spin, spin, spin some more.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 18, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        Yup. And if you read that line in context, I am clearly talking about the few thousand drop from 2010 to 2011. It’s nothing. It’s certainly not “bleeding attendance.” The Yankees are even down in attendance this year. What’s their excuse? At least the Mets are in a transition/retooling year. And have traded away top talent mid-season for future considerations.

        Again, your “20,000 from 2 years ago” is ludicrous considering the 15,000 lesser capacity of Citi Field. That absolutely impacts attendance numbers as there are certain games throughout the year that are much more desirable than others and which the Mets traditionally drew 45,000+ or more, if not selling out completely. Doesn’t matter if the Mets never sold out throughout the season in their new park. The Yankees have never sold out throughout the season at their new park also (again, what’s their excuse???).

        “the entire logic of going to a small park (higher prices from reduced demand) was shot to hell when the Mets had to slash prices because nobody was going to see them. “

        False, for various reasons. One, the Mets discounted tickets at Shea as well, and unless you know the actual discounted prices per ticket compared to the actual ticket prices at Shea, there is no way you can say they are still not getting a greater haul per ticket than they did at Shea. Second, you conveniently left out the much higher concession revenues they are getting at Citi due to the much more elaborate and attractive group of eateries and dining clubs, and shops. This is extensive revenue, regardless of what the ticket revenue is.

        Spin, spin, spin, indeed. You try so hard to do it, but it’s transparently false.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 18, 2011 at 4:57 PM

        Yeah, you did say they were only down a few thousand from last year. Which is an incredible spin job because it deliberately ignores the fact that both 2010 and 2011 are part of a multi-year ticket swoon. You laughed off the claim by making a purposefully bad comparison to hide the issue. It would be akin to denying a claim that the Cubs were a franchise in decline because they’re only a few wins off of their 2010 pace. Well, that’s true. They’re on pace for 70 wins this year, and that’s not a terribly big difference from 75. But it makes no sense to deny that statement when the team won 83 games in 2009 and 97 games in 2008. You responded to seeingwhatsticks comment with a deliberately cherry-picked comparison that ignored the point he was making, and you had to know you were doing it. That, sir, is the definition of spin.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 18, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        Yankees tickets are considerably more expensive ($20-$30 more, 2nd or 3rd most expensive depending on your source) and the Fan Cost Index is about $90 more for Yankees games than it is for Mets games based on this ESPN information: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=mlb&id=6281882

        Despite the much higher cost to attend Yankees games, they are playing in front of 14k more fans a game and retained 1200 more fans from 2010 to 2011 than the Mets did. To me that says your “it’s the economy, stupid” argument doesn’t really hold water in the nation’s largest media market. The economy has impacted every team but significantly more people are willing to spend significantly more money to attend Yankees games. I would also buy your argument about Shea holding more people if the Mets were selling out Citi on even a semi-regular basis but the facts suggest that has not been the case. The Mets got a 1 year boost from a new stadium but otherwise have seen declining ticket sales and attendance.

        One more thing: higher concession revenues only exist when people actually show up to the games. It’s one thing to lose ticket sales, which is bad for obvious reasons, but less people in the park means selling less food and drink too. It’s ludicrous to think the Mets can make up the loss in ticket sales with concessions sales.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 18, 2011 at 5:53 PM

        One more thing. A loss of 600k fans in 2 years means the Mets are pulling in $18 million less in 2011 than they did in 2009 (and it’s actually much more when you consider prices were higher in 2009 than 2011 and the loss of concession revenue). I’m not sure how you can look at that type of decline and say the Wilpons will have no issues paying off their current debt, potentially another $300 million for the Madoff case, and the $200 million it would take to block Einhorn from majority ownership in 5 years. The Wilpons will owe more in the future and, at least based ont he recent trend, making less money.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 18, 2011 at 7:53 PM

        Kevin – In addition to your already huge lapses in logic which I’ve already mentioned (like your complete glossing over of a significant differences in stadium capacity) there are other problems with your and sticky’s logic regarding the attendance issue which I haven’t even addressed yet. Let me start:

        1) You are totally ignoring the fact that 2008 was the final year in a much beloved stadium and it therefore produced an attendance bump which was abnormally high. It therefore was not the norm, and so comparing recent attendance to that “special” abnormal year is invalid.

        2) You are totally ignoring the fact that 2009 was the initial year in a spanking brand new stadium which gave an abnormal bump to attendance that year. That year also cannot be considered the norm.

        3) Given 1 and 2 above, plus your total ignorance of the huge capacity difference between the new and old stadiums, it is hard to make a “bleeding attendance” argument since you are using abnormal years as your benchmarks plus apples to oranges comparisons in terms of stadium capacities. It’s a bogus argument when couched in the “bleeding attendance” phrase.

        You are further ignoring the fact there is new management in place for the Mets, and so it is hard to make an argument that what happened under the old regime is bound to continue in future years with a brand new one. Especially when Alderson is widely regarded as highly capable and has already shown a knack for savvy moves such as fleecing the Giants by getting Wheeler.

        Moreover, your feeble attempt at comparing the Mets attendance issue to the Cubs performance issue fails on many levels. Mainly, the fact that underlying circumstances have changed with the Mets impacting recent attendance and the potential for future attendance (lowered capacity, a change in management) whereas the Cubs have undergone no such similar significant changes which would impact current or future performance.

        I responded to sticky’s exaggerated “bleeding attendance” statement with the only argument that made sense. That is not spin. It’s logic.

        Your continued attempt to compare attendance from 2008 with the current year, totally ignoring the different stadium capacities, can only be characterized as laughable spin to the nth degree.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 18, 2011 at 8:00 PM

        “Despite the much higher cost to attend Yankees games, they are playing in front of 14k more fans a game and retained 1200 more fans from 2010 to 2011 than the Mets did. To me that says your “it’s the economy, stupid” argument doesn’t really hold water”

        Huh? Sticky, the Yankees attendance is down from last year. Period. It’s down around 4%. How would anything you just said argue against the economy being a reason for that? Since the Yankees are leading their division, they SHOULD be drawing more than a team that is out of the WC picture and which was thought to have little chance to make the postseason from the start of the year. If the Yankees aren’t pulling more, they should be moving out of the city or contracted. So the mere fact that they are drawing more than another team does not mean their own drop in attendance this year is not due to the economy. You aren’t making sense.

        “I would also buy your argument about Shea holding more people if the Mets were selling out Citi on even a semi-regular basis but the facts suggest that has not been the case. The Mets got a 1 year boost from a new stadium but otherwise have seen declining ticket sales and attendance.”

        As I already said, the fact that the Mets are not selling out on a regular basis has no bearing on the fact that when they do – or come close to it – they can fit 15,000 fewer fans in Citi than they could at Shea. That is LOST attendance that is NOT made up on other dates. There are certain dates on the calendar that the Mets have traditionally had a sellout or near sellout – opening day, holidays, some interleague games, some games with division rivals, special promotional events, special honorary days, and even some matchups with teams such as the Dodgers. And this has been the case no matter what the attendance has been in the past. Now this is lost attendance. So the lowered capacity absolutely impacts annual attendance – whether or not the team is selling out.

        “I’m not sure how you can look at that type of decline and say the Wilpons will have no issues paying off their current debt, potentially another $300 million for the Madoff case, and the $200 million it would take to block Einhorn from majority ownership in 5 years.”

        I’m really baffled at how anyone can look at just a decline in attendance between the opening of a new smaller capacity stadium and the first year of a new more highly capable management team 2 years later and conclude that (1) attendance won’t improve over the next five years and (2) Wilpon-Katz won’t have the assets and revenues in other Sterling business with which to pay off debt, Madoff and Einhorn in the coming years.

        Please rundown that annual balance sheet for me in detail being sure to include:

        1) All profits from SNY
        2) All profits from Sterling real estate properties
        3) All profits from parking and concessions at Citi Field

        When you get me those numbers, I’ll give your pure speculation some thought.

        “The Wilpons will owe more in the future and, at least based ont he recent trend, making less money.”

        Wow, that’s really a wild one. Please explain how could be given the fact that at least half of the $200 million from the minority sale is going to go toward paying down debt immediately. Simple math and common sense dictate they will then have $100 million less debt on the books by the end of this year.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 18, 2011 at 8:25 PM

        Chris this really isn’t that complicated. The Yankees are a much more expensive experience, and while they lost some fans they retained more than the Mets did. Of course some of that is due to competitiveness but then how do you explain the fact that more people are willing to spend more money to see them play? If the economy is the reason for the decline in sales by the Mets certainly it would have the same impact on a more expensive experience and that’s not the case.

        Yes, Shea stadium held more people but the discrepancy in capacity has nothing to do with the fact that the Mets aren’t selling out Citi. That discrepancy may explain the drop from 2008 to 2009 but it has absolutely nothing to do with the drops from 2009 to 2010 and 2010 to 2011. As I stated earlier, ticket prices dropped significantly from 2009 to 2010, in a 1 year old stadium, and the Mets still lost a huge amount of fans. After raising prices from 2010 to 2011 (still cheaper than 2009) the Mets lost more fans. Shea has nothing to do with the Mets losing fans every year since moving into Citi.

        You’re right that the Wilpons will take $100 million from Einhorn to pay off immediate debt but you’re wrong to say that debt disappears permanently because they will have to pay that money back to Einhorn in 5 years if they want to keep the team. In other words, they save the interest on the debt but Einhorn essentially gave them a loan, an initial (and fully refundable) deposit on a sale of the Mets. That money’s not revenue and it’s not a gift. The question isn’t whether the Wilpons can hold on for the next 5 years, it’s whether they can hold on when they have to pay Einhorn and Picard $500 million that they clearly don’t have.

      • chrisny3 - Aug 18, 2011 at 9:34 PM

        Sticky, yes, this is really quite a simple matter which is why it’s so puzzling you can’t get it right. Frist off, I need to correct you. You said that Yankee tickets are $20-30 more than Mets tickets, but by your own linked article, that’s quite an exaggeration. They are just $20 more than Mets tickets. Now that that’s out of the way … the Yankees actually lost more in attendance per game from 2010 to 2011 than the Mets have so far this year (ESPN numbers). So your facts, as always, are off. ESPN says the Yankees are down 1655/game in 2011 while the Mets are down 1510/game. So, starting this year, the Mets are losing less than the Yankees.

        Now as to why more people go to Yankees games and pay more money it’s because winning almost always equals better attendance, duh!* Look what it’s done for the Phillies and Giants in recent years. So if you’re not drawing when you’re winning, there is something wrong with the team’s location/fan base, and maybe the owners should look to relocate. Geez, this is simple logic which almost every baseball fan understands.

        So the question is, why are the Yankees losing attendance? They should be gaining or staying the same, right? They are in first place, after all. And their ticket prices have also been lowered every year since they opened their new stadium. So they should see increases, not a drop.

        It’s logical to conclude the economy in NY is having an impact on ticket sales here. Not just for the Yankees but for the Mets too.

        “That discrepancy may explain the drop from 2008 to 2009 but it has absolutely nothing to do with the drops from 2009 to 2010 and 2010 to 2011. “

        Again, 2010 to 2011 is the economy. As for the rest, read my explanation to Kevin on this first. If you still have questions, shoot.

        “but you’re wrong to say that debt disappears permanently”

        Wow. LOL, where did I say this? Can you please take the time to read my comments carefully if you’re going to try to reply to them? I never said debt disappears “permanently.” I said it would be lowered by 100 million by the end of this year and that’s true. You said it would only increase in the future and you have no way of knowing that and it made no sense given that it will definitely drop by a boatload just this year. You just pulled that out of your ass.

        “The question isn’t whether the Wilpons can hold on for the next 5 years, it’s whether they can hold on when they have to pay Einhorn and Picard $500 million that they clearly don’t have.”

        Are you sure that’s a question for you? In all your previous comments, you seemed to be so cocksure that they wouldn’t be able to even though you have no clue – zero, zilch – what their true financial situation really is with their large Sterling Enterprises empire. Not even Forbes knows what it is.

        Again, show me the annual balance sheet for Wilpon/Katz that includes

        –all SNY profits
        –all Sterling RE profits
        –all Stadium concession and souvenir profits

        And then I may give your pure speculation some thought. Until then, it’s just shooting in the dark.

        * This is true for the NE and big urban areas. The exception of course are areas like Atlanta and Tampa.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 18, 2011 at 10:08 PM

        Chris Chris Chris, once again picking the sources that you agree with. Per the BR link above, the Mets have lost 2,807 per game from 2010 to 2011 while the Yankees have lost 1,593 from 2010 to 2011. Correct me if I’m wrong but 2,807 is a bigger number than 1,593.

        If the ticket prices were exactly the same then I would expect the Yankees to be selling more based on the fact that they are good and the Mets aren’t, but Yankee games are considerably more expensive than Mets games. By Fan Cost Index a Yankee game is $90 more than a Met game. So the economy is horrible, as are the Mets, and still more people are willing to spend more money to see the Yankees. I don’t doubt that the economy has an impact but looking at the Yankees attendance and ticket prices it’s clear that there are still a lot of people willing to spend a lot of money to see a decent baseball product. Plus, the economy was awful 2 years ago when Mets prices were higher AND they sold more tickets. And the economy was bad last year when they sold more tickets as well. So maybe people go to fewer games than they otherwise would have but they are still going to games.

        What I said about the $100 million of debt the Wilpons are paying down courtesy of Einhorn is that whatever they pay down doesn’t disappear permanently they’ve just shifted who they owe and over what period of time. They still have to come up with $200 million to pay Einhorn in 5 years, which means all they’ve done is push back the due date and save a little interest. They solved the problem in the immediate future but the long term future is still very much in doubt.

        If all those entities you’ve listed are huge moneymakers, and have cash that could cover the cost of paying all their debt, why did the Wilpons need Einhorn in the first place? Why bring in a minority owner, give him a path to majority ownership (against the Wilpon’s wishes) if you don’t need the money? If the Wilpons want to retain control of the Mets in 5 years they will need to avg about $100 million of profit a year ($300 million for Picard + $200 million for Einhorn). If they were making that kind of money annually they wouldn’t have been under the crushing debt load that caused them to search for a minority owner. They’re stil in trouble, it’s just not as immediate as it was 6-8 months ago.

        If the Wilpons are to hold on they need a highly competitive team at a very good price, and they need it yesterday. Alderson can and will improve the team but it’s going to take a few years to put together the kind of inexpensive assets that can compete in their division. The Phillies will probably take a step back next year and start to decline but they will still be better than the Mets. The Marlins have been hugely disappointing this year but they have a cheap Mike Stanton and a track record of competing at a low price. The Braves have some really nice young talent and even the Nats could cobble together a decent team in the not too distant future. It’s one thing to say the Mets will be a better team but it’s another matter entirely to say that improvement will show up in the standings (and thus at the gate).

      • chrisny3 - Aug 18, 2011 at 11:17 PM

        Sticky, Sticky, Sticky, once again playing loose and fancy with the facts. Go here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance

        Now compare this year’s attendance with last year’s. It says that the Yankees are down 1,655 per game from last year, while the Mets are down 1,510 per game. Those are the facts. And last I looked, 1,655 is a larger number than 1,510. Maybe you live in some alternate universe?

        Yes, Yankee tickets cost $20 more on average than Mets tickets, and it costs about $25/person more to watch a game at Yankee stadium (with drinks, hats etc. added in; their parking cost is reportedly through the roof). But, again, when there is a winning team, that equals attendance and people willing to pay. I don’t know how you can’t see this. It’s so rudimentary. And you haven’t answered my question. Since the Yankees have cut ticket prices every year from 2009 to this year, and since they are in first place and so should logically draw big crowds, why are they seeing a decline in attendance this year that is larger than the Mets? C’mon. Try. Try hard.

        And, you are wrong. The economy in NY was not as bad two years ago as it is now. Do your homework. As for the Mets 2009 attendance levels being so high. I told you to read my reply to Kevin. First read it, then if you still don’t understand it let me know what about it you don’t understand.

        “…whatever they pay down doesn’t disappear permanently they’ve just shifted who they owe and over what period of time.”

        LMAO. Wow. Wow. Wow. What bizarro world do you live in? Or did you mean to say something else? Otherwise I can’t believe what I’m reading. When one pays down debt, that portion that you paid down disappears permanently. When I pay my mortgage, that portion of the debt disappears permanently. Are you really so naive about financial matters? Why am I wasting my time with you????

        “They still have to come up with $200 million to pay Einhorn in 5 years,”

        Yes, and that’s a different portion of the debt. The debt they pay off this year is gone this year. Finito. (Wow, I can’t believe I have to explain this to you!)

        “If all those entities you’ve listed are huge moneymakers, and have cash that could cover the cost of paying all their debt, why did the Wilpons need Einhorn in the first place?”

        Because they had a 1 billion judgment hanging over their heads. Again, 1 BILLION dollars. Plus other expenses like large legal fees. They had to start planning for the possibility of having to pay that amount. As soon as this year. Now, tough, it looks like Picard will lose on the larger “should have known” part of the lawsuit, as I predicted last February. And, I’m guessing they could probably absorb the cost if they didn’t make the Einhorn sale now. But since they were well down that road when Rakoff got involved, they probably want to just complete it since it’s only for a 17% share and there is NO guaranteed path to majority ownership.

        “If the Wilpons want to retain control of the Mets in 5 years they will need to avg about $100 million of profit a year … ”

        Your amateur clueless guesswork is so funny. You are working completely in the dark. Again, you completely ignore the fact that they have immense RE assets and SNY, as well as an additional 32% minority portion of the club to sell if they need to raise additional money down the road.

        “It’s one thing to say the Mets will be a better team but it’s another matter entirely to say that improvement will show up in the standings (and thus at the gate).”

        No one has a crystal ball. Not you or I or the people who even make these predictions for a living If we did, we’d all of said in March that AZ would be in first place now, right? I have a lot of faith in Alderson and know he has the ship moving on all cylinders in the right direction. And the farm system is in a lot better shape than most people realize.

        Finally, about the BR numbers you used? They are NOT the final 2010 end-of-year attendance figures. So they are not valid for comparison. The ESPN numbers are more appropriate to use.

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