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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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What the Settlement Means...

If the Wilpons are still running this team for years to come and the Mets have been restored to some semblance of vitality because the organization is no longer distracted by an issue bigger than baseball, today’s settlement of the case concerning their involvement in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme before it could go to trial was a good thing. If the Wilpons eventually have to sell anyway in light of all the zeroes that continue to follow them around and the Mets franchise is reinvigorated for the long term by new ownership, today’s settlement should be marked down as, at the very least, not a bad thing.

If the Mets continue to operate as if they’ve taken up residence in Kansas City because the Wilpons and all their presence implies are still here, then the settlement is lousy news. If the Wilpons still have to sell and the new buyers are worse owners than this crew has been — which is certainly a possibility despite the two bitter, barren periods (2002-2004, 2009-present) over which current ownership has presided in the past decade — then it’s not good.

That’s the least sophisticated analysis I can offer, perhaps the least sophisticated analysis you will read in the wake of the Wilpons apparently getting off cheap. At the risk of not taking into account whether justice was or wasn’t done, I’m going to take the provincial view and concentrate on whether this was good for the Mets…and by “the Mets,” I mean us, the Mets fans. Will we, when the current dust settles, have a team that year in, year out has a chance to compete and make us more proud than disgusted?

I don’t know. But that’s what will tell me if any good came out of this settlement today.

24 comments to What the Settlement Means…

  • Kevin From Flushing

    At the very least, this is good news for the short term. But as we all know, our history of focusing on short term dividends doesn’t bode well for the long term.

  • Much like everything in sports, if the Mets win more games than they lose this year, it’s a good thing. If not, a bad thing. Continue ad infinium. (correct latin? who knows..)

  • Dave

    Here’s what I keep coming back to…if you settle a case for $162M, that means you as defendants figure that $162M is worth giving up to make it go away. But no $100M for your shortstop. Now, I’m sure there were legal/financial/timing reasons why they had to hold onto that money until this case reached a conclusion, therefore no $100M available for said shortstop. Spending that kind of money would have been ill advised, maybe impossible.

    That hardly makes me feel better. I just don’t feel as though any cloud has been lifted at all.

  • Mike

    Well, thank you Greg for acknowledging what few people seem to when clamoring for the Wilpons to sell: new owners could be worse. The Wilpons have, traditionally, not been cheap when it comes to this team. The fact that $50 million came off the books between this season and last our payroll is *still* a tick above $90 million shows you they aren’t cheap. The 2002 Mets shows you they aren’t cheap. The Pedro/Beltran era shows you they’re not cheap. Heck, Citi Field shows you they aren’t cheap. When the Wilpons are financially solvent, I have little doubt they will spend on this team. History simply indicates this.

    The problem has been what the problem was with the 2002 team: The money has, more often than not, just not been spent as wisely as it could have. It’s an incredibly sad irony that now, in Sandy Alderson, we have an incredibly smart baseball mind at the helm….and we’ve got no money to give him! I’d be thrilled to see what Sandy could do with $140 million at his fingertips.

    • March'62

      Thank you both Mike and Greg!!! I guess I never got the memo that the Wilpons are evil and we have to hate them. They seem like very nice guys that were victimized by M@d#ff and who own a baseball team that hasn’t been overly successful during their tenure. But you’d think they had walked into a school and started shooting an Uzi. Since when do us Met fans judge a person in the win column only? For decades we railed against the jerk of an owner of the other baseball team in town because winning isn’t everything. You have to treat people decently as well. Now I want the Mets to win as much as the next psychotic fan but I fail to see, until very recently, how the Wilpons have prevented the team from winning! By constructing a stadium that’s an ode to a different team from a different era? Heck, if I bought a baseball team in a few years time and I was going to be sinking big bucks into building a stadium, I might want to make it look like Shea – a decaying, drafty, no-frills park – even if the team I bought wasn’t the Mets. But that’s me. Is that the Wilpons’ biggest crime? They have had high payrolls, they bought bigtime free agents, they have been operating a first class organization for whom the players want to play. And they have said they can now start doing that again. I, for one, believe them. Let the good times roll and LET’S GO METS!!!!

  • Steve D

    Fred said that “The Mets will be back…we did it twice in 33 years…we’ll be there again.”

    What a disingenuous statement. Is this guy for real? I assume he is talking about World Series appearances. First off, 2 out of 33 is not very good…the Yankees have 7 during that time. Second, the Mets’ two WS appearances (as if we don’t care if we win it) were accomplished with Nelson Doubleday as partner…current ownership is not Doubleday-Wilpon…it is Wilpon-Wilpon-Katz. That is a HUGE difference. W-W-K have done nothing but make this franchise and their own business reputations LAUGHINGSTOCKS.

    • open the gates

      Steve – um, that would be four WS appearances. We got to the show in ’73 and ’00, even if we didn’t take the grand prize.

      Still, good point about Nelson Doubleday. I always saw him as the baseball guy, and Wilpon (despite his constant ad nauseum references to Sandy Koufax) as the money guy. Now we have the money guy, his son, and his brother-in-law. Nepotism doesn’t work any better in sports than in any other case.

    • Mike D.

      Yeah, the Yanks have seven, blah, blah, blah. Who else does? It’s better to be lucky than good, and the Yankees were beneficiaries of a Steinbrenner suspension — thus ending his compulsion to pick apart a good thing — and a weak division until John Henry and Andrew Friedman came to town. Can we stop holding the Yankees up as a benchmark? They’re outliers.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    I am glad that it is finally over!

    Now we can just talk about our “Crappy Team”. This team is going to SUCK alot worse then even most fans think.

    I have watched them live six times already and they are really bad! They are borderline unwatchable! I think we will be pushing the Astros for 100 losses and the first TC meltdown will come in May.

    Yes I know its Spring Training and the injuries…Blah Blah. But this team has lost 9 in row (Thank goodness for the day off)!Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in awhile.

    What the injuries show is that we have ZERO depth! Our pitching will only be good if everybody has a career year (aint happening).

    They look totally outmatched when they take the field. They already look defeated.

    I can’t wait for them to stop stcking up the place here and go to N.Y!

    Some pieces of advice for you Met fans!

    1)Dont let the Mets ruin a good day or your whole summer!
    2)Get a new hobby by Mothers Day!
    3)Drink alot because this team is borderline unwatchable!

    Don’t take this season too seriously, it’s not worth it this year.

    • March'62

      So Rich, you really think the Mets can win 60 games this year?

    • Will in Central NJ

      Rich, I agree with your sage advice about not letting the Mets’ actions/inactions ruin your day, and getting a hobby. I’ll save my energy for yardwork, volunteer for my kid’s ice hockey team, rotate my minivan tires. It’s not worth getting too riled up over. Sigh.

    • kd bart

      Spring Training results, especially the early part of Spring Training, are totally meaningless. Two examples. The 1984 Cubs loss 13 in a row in the Cactus League. Went 12-8 in the first month of the season and won the NL East. I remember either 2001 or 2002 Mets winning 9 in a row toward the end of ST, still got off to a terrible start in the regular season.

      • Jack in PSL

        Except when they aren’t. If you have watched any of this years edition play so far in ST, you will see that they have yet to field any semblence of their projected starting lineup together at one time. Both the SS and 3B have not played together yet. The outfield is a rather motley collection of new names save for Bay, newcomer Torres, and Duda -murderer’s row, this isn’t. One guy (Loewen) dropped a gimme last week in Jupiter in left field. Pelf has been, well… he looks like a has-been. Santana, with his restructured arm, is projected as the ace. RA Dickey, a terrific chap with a knuckleball, actually looks like the ace right now. There is no depth at all.
        They are easy to root, this bunch. Most of them are nice guys and they seem happy as a team. But nice guys, as we all know in NY, finish last.
        A good season – a good season – would be only losing 90 games. That’s how bad they look so far. I agree that ST records mean very little, except when they don’t.

    • boldib

      Or 4)Watch good young players develop on a young team in transition with excellent prospects in the minors.

      I’m with March 62.

      Go Mets!

  • Jack in PSL

    Frankly, I can only see the favorable-to-owner settlement as good news to fans if we can just forget about all of the other incredibly bad decisions that the Wilpons have made in the past – let alone the Madoff matter.
    There was the way-too-long support of Minaya, the Bernazard fiasco (why was he in that postion to begin with?), the Citi (read: Ebbetts) Field fiasco – only fixed when the howling from Mets fans reached the Wilpons Ivory Tower. Add in the absurd comedy of the Met medical department and the continuing tone-deaf statments out the mouths of babes (Jeff) and Fred. …and that “U” tee-shirt was a stroke of ignorance wasn’t it?
    It’s not all about the Madoff issue. Any self-respecting Met fan knew that the Wilpons probably didn’t know about the scam as suspecting they did would be giving their collective intellects way too much credit.
    Yes, we now move on – to more mediocrity. SELL THE FREAKIN’ TEAM ALREADY!

    • Mike D.

      You probably would have said the same thing about the Maras in 1978. And you’d have been right. How do you know that Sandy Alderson isn’t our George Young (and for that matter, that Riccardi or DePo aren’t our versions of Ernie Accorsi and Jerry Reese waiting in the wings)? You don’t. The Maras eventually got the message, even if it had to be delivered by biplane. What makes you think the Wilpons won’t?

  • Lou

    At least with the finances somewhat stabilized, now we can see what the team of Alderson, DePodesta, Ricciardi, and others on the baseball side can do. I would not expect, nor would I hope, Sandy start spending like a drunken sailor. On the other hand, the finances bode well for continuing to draft smartly as they continue to re-build the organization. The outcome yesterday will have no bearing on what happens on the field this year. But two three years down the road is when we will know the answer. Look, even the Yankees are cutting payroll. The new collective bargaining agreement contains stiffer penalties if the luxury threshold is reached. We cannot expect to predict the outcome of how the Mets will do based on the amount of money they spend. For more, go to my site. (sorry for the gratuitous plug.)

  • open the gates

    Whoa, guys, let’s not lay down and die. It’s only Spring Training.

    We can do that after the first week of the regular season.

  • kd bart

    You just have to go back a year to look at the utter lack of importance of spring training records.

    2011 Arizona Diamondbacks:

    12-25 Spring Training (Worse in the Cactus League)
    94-68 Regular Season

    2011 Minnesota Twins:

    20-12 Spring Training (Best in the Grapefruit League)
    63-99 Regular Season

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    I beleive the settlement is good news for the Wilpons but not good news for the Mets.

    If it was just the civil suit hanging over their heads, I doubt the drastic steps taken throughout the organization (not just roster payroll) would have occured. They have lost a half-billion dollars invested with Madoff plus no longer have the security of the approximate 16% in returns they had been receiving. Not to mention Sterling Equities, the parent company, being in bad finanical shape due to the bust in real-estate.

    No, too many things have been occuring for us to think the suit would remedy most of the major problems facing the parent company, let alone the Mets. Even Sandy said the $70 million loss had to be adressed regardless of the suit. Now I will be honest and do not trust Sandy in his public statements but that does indicate him trying to prepare the fans not to think this resolves the problem. As the same time, that $70 million loss for the Mets was just used as an excuse to justify cutting payrollis for it’s only on paper – Sterling Equities is more than compensated for that in the revenue that the Mets generate through the selling of television rights to SNY (of which they hold a majority ownership as well) and merchanding. Most all owners say the real money is made not in the club but through television rights, as YES and NESN have proved.

    That $70 million loss .

  • [...] Wilpons and Saul Katz have apparently gotten a little cocky in the wake of avoiding trial by jury in the Madoff mess. This, I suppose, is Fred’s version of Eminem so eloquently declaring, “I [...]

  • Met_fan_since1962

    Wilpons have consistently lied to us the fans. They are snakes and it may be their family business but it is my team. I will not contrivute any money to this slimy ownership