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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Two-Wilpon Monte

The Mets lost. Again. As they have done throughout this stake-in-the-heart homestead. As they have done with numbing regularity since mid-April.

The details don’t particularly matter, so we’ll buzz through them quickly: they ambushed Yankees starter Domingo German for an unfathomable three runs in the first, on home runs by Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera.

If you tuned in late, sorry, that was the offense. The Mets were ahead, by the shocking score of 3-0, but you knew it wouldn’t last.

Lots of us have or have had that pal who’s a blast to hang out with until his fourth beer, at which point a trap door opens up beneath both of you and the next stop is hell and you wonder exactly how many times you’ll need to make this exact same mistake before you learn. That was the Mets with a 3-0 lead — feeling good about it was like looking over at your nitroglycerine-laced buddy and thinking, “Whew, he’s had one beer and hasn’t slugged anyone or propositioned the waitress!” Faint comfort three hours later, when you’re in the parking lot trying to play peacemaker amid flying epithets and wondering how you’re going to find a cabbie who’s too new to understand that your maniac friend won’t manage 10 minutes before deciding he needs to throw up, piss out the window or try both at once.

Anyway, Steven Matz gave up a solo shot to Gleyber Torres and a two-run homer to Miguel Andujar to surrender the lead, then departed. Yeah, 3-0 was a long time ago.

And then, at 3-3, we waited to see how they would lose.

The culprit was Anthony Swarzak, whose first pitch to Aaron Judge was a flat slider that Judge hit to the moon. But this is not to bury Swarzak; it was going to be some Met screwing up at some point, and on Saturday night it happened to be him. Tomorrow night it might be Swarzak again, or Jacob Rhame, or Seth Lugo. It’ll be someone.

This team’s in freefall, undone by injuries and poor play and roster spots given to zombie players. We’ll talk about that in the coming days and weeks and months. We’ll grouse and groan and occasionally have something to cheer about.

But it’ll be noise.

There’s only one story around the Mets, and it’s a depressingly old one: They’re owned by a family that cannot afford the payroll of a major-league franchise in Tampa Bay, let alone New York; is no longer expected by the city’s legions of beat reporters to be accountable for that; and is under no apparent pressure to sell the team it quite obviously can no longer afford.

The Mets actually have a decent collection of young talent — the kind of core teams try desperately to obtain as the foundation of a contender. But rather than surround that cheap young talent with high-priced stars and mid-priced complementary players, the Wilpons have supplemented it with zero-priced veterans on their last legs and occasional dips into the free-agent bargain bin when the market breaks their way. If you’ve been deemed expendable by the Atlanta Braves, welcome to Flushing. If you cost more than that, your agent best have the phone numbers of 29 other GMs.

And this is how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future, which you’d better get used to measuring in decades. Major League Baseball does not care that the Mets are once again baseball’s North Korea. You want to know when things will change? Don’t ask a baseball analyst, because he’ll just shrug and say it’s a shame. Get Jeff Wilpon’s health records and consult an actuary.

This doesn’t mean the Mets will never win. They’ll be in the occasional pennant race, particularly now that there are two wild-card slots. Once in a great while, as happened in 2015, they might even come close to winning — the postseason is an exercise in rolling dice. But most of the time they won’t do any of those things. They’ll be done in by injuries and lack of talent and poor decisions and ill luck and most of all by their threadbare ownership. Some years that fate will be apparent in March; other years it will be a September surprise. But it will be the outcome nearly every year, and the only one a sane fan will expect.

This is two-Wilpon monte, and it’s a sucker’s game. Grouse all you want about bad bullpens and injured outfielders and not-ready-yet rookies and over-the-hill infielders. It’s all true, but it’s also street patter and rearranged cards. The real con happened before you even stepped up to the table. Keep that firmly in mind, and maybe you won’t be habitually and cruelly disappointed.

(Tip of the cap to Dan Lewis, who focused my attention on the real problem and kept me from hurling my in-laws’ remote through a wall.)

29 comments to Two-Wilpon Monte

  • Seth

    Bless you for speaking the truth.

  • So well put, Jason. I have nothing to add. Sleep well tonight!

  • Left Coast Jerry

    The only reason to watch the Mets lose night after night is to come to this blog to get Jason’s or Greg’s take on the game. Thanks, guys, for being far more entertaining than the team you write about.

  • Nick

    Hear fucking hear.

  • Bilmo

    This is the kernel in the kernel in the kernel in the kernel – the deepest, most basic truth about the Mets. I watch the pregame and postgame shows, the press interviews with Calloway, the discussions about how this player’s timing is off or that one’s mechanics need a slight adjustment, and I get so frustrated: it’s all about a lack of talent. Yes, on a certain level, these guys are all talented to some degree but the lesser ones will have more frequent, longer, and deeper dry spells. I don’t blame AGon for being mediocre. That’s who he is now. It’s not Kevin Plawecki’s fault that he’s the second coming of Josh Thole. It’s unreasonable to expect players to be something they’re not. The lack of talent, the roster, originates with the Wilpons, and their unwillingness to back the team with the necessary cash.

  • mikeL

    yes, the wilpons and yes MLB. important not to overlook latter’s complicity in all of this.

    • K. Lastima

      Great article and I second the above comment about the complicity of MLB. Let’s never forget how that crud, Bud Selig, kept his pal Fred afloat with emergency $25MM loan the Commissioner’s slush fund, and the flagrant double standard applied to force out the owner of the Dodgers while giving the Wilpons a pass. I’ve been saying for some time that one of the NY papers needs to assign a financial reporter to team up with a sports guy on an investigative assignment to expose Fred and Jeffy’s shell game. I hate to root for drastically rising interest rates, but with the Wilpons continuing to roll over their Mets/SNY bond financings, the only hope that Mets fans have for a change of ownership is that at some point Fred and little Jeffy can’t afford the vig on the debt or the Banks deem it too risky to refinance the debt and call the notes. Otherwise, the Mets will still be owned by little Jeffy, even as an still more diminished shrunken 80-year old man.

      • Orange and blue through and through

        Bless you! You took the words,like the Meatloaf song says, right out of my mouth. It boggles my mind how a financially deficient, malfeasant ownership can be allowed by MLB to continue to destroy this franchise! The Dodger ownership is forced to sell, yet that horrible, sham of a “commissioner”, Bud Selig, floats the Mets a loan that they can’t pay back! And all the while, Mets fans are forced to suffer this excruciating humiliation of rooting for this tattered, beat down organization. Why is this allowed to continue? I will always be a Mets fan. The team made a tremendous impression on me as a youth, and I will continue, as my name says, to be orange and blue through and through. But, if the Wilpons have any shred of care or respect for this organization or it’s die-hard fans, SELL THIS TEAM!

  • Deborah McIver

    It’s not just that they won’t or can’t spend the money to do what it takes; it’s more a combination of spending the money they have foolishly, sticking to a bad business model, and being, just, well….dopey. And the Wilpons never take any responsibility for any of it. They simply trot out the whipping boys du jour and allow the flogging to begin. They present themselves as good guys who care, and expect to get a gigantic pass for doing good in the community or elsewhere. And a lot of the media happily munches on that shit sandwich. I’ve often said that if the Wilpon owned Mets ever win a championship it will be the greatest accident ever to occur in Queens. Legendary-worth, even. It’s time for the fans to run them out of town. We have to figure out their Achilles heel and exploit it to death. From where I sit it looks like money is it, and we need to stop spending it to their benefit.

  • LeClerc

    It’s one thing for the Mets to play the Washington Generals to the Yankees’ Harlem Globetrotters.

    It’s another thing for the Mets to play the Washington Generals to the Orioles’ Harlem Globetrotters.

    Nimmo = Bevo Francis
    Judge = Meadowlark Lemon

  • K. Lastima

    Bottom line, it comes down to this: From this point forward, for every ticket you purchase, for every overpriced beer you drink, for every outrageous parking fee you pay, for every t-shirt or jersey buy, you are complicit in this fiasco. It’s time for a serious boycott to force the Wilpons out. I’m 60 years old and there is no way the Mets will win another WS in my lifetime as long as the Fred and Little Jeffy continue to own the team.

    On another note, I’m tired of the post-game guys talking about the inevitability that the “real” Michael Conforto will soon return, when it’s just as likely that the real Michael Conforto is nothing more than the new Mike Vail

  • Orange and blue through and through

    Besides the constant outrage about the Mets sad ownership situation, we as fans need to hope for drastic change. Since this season has now been officially declared a huge disappointment, we’ve got to jettison these over-the-hill, washed up, empty roster spot suckers like Adrian Gonzolez and the well past his mediocrity, Jose Reyes. Somehow find a way to trade Bruce, Frazier and Cespedes, it will be hard, but at least try. Then, Sandy Alderson needs to excelerate his departure. Oh, sure, we may lose 100+ games, but with the Wilpons in place as owners, our long lineage of suffering will continue.

  • GroteFan

    I for one blamed Collins as an incompetent manager, but it is apparent this good man was just the sympton. So glad you wrote this in an unemotional manner.
    The Wilpons were about to lose the team when they brought in Alderson after the 2010 season. He proceeded to lead them to the following win totals prior to the stunning 2015 season-77, 74, 74, 79. Bernie Madoff plead guilty to in March 2009, and the Wilpons were up to their necks in that mess.
    I think it comes down to this. Sterling Mets is a real estate company that owns a baseball team. The Wilpons and Saul Katz are real estate guys…if the team wins once in a while, they are ok with it, but not focused on it. They’re all in on the development around Citifield.
    Just do a little research on what it is like to work with Jeff Wilpon.
    Read the article on the Tidewater Tides disaster, and how the AAA team ended up 2000 miles and 3 time zones away, playing in a pit of a stadium in Las Vegas, or how Jeffy overplayed his hand trying to develop a relationship with the Soccer team that ended up aligned with the Yankees.
    This stuff is all out there, and you make a good point, that the local scribes at the Post, Daily News and Newsday do not do the work required to dig it up.
    Unfortunately, I think we are stuck with Jeff Wilpon. Seriously, born on third base, thinks he hit a triple, and what else could he do after dad dies.
    There is a thought that the Mets are now cursed since there are reports that the Wilpons and the Commissioner’s office, yeah your buddy Bud Selig artificially deflated the price of the team in the purchase of Nelson Doubleday’s portion…
    You can read that there, and itwill not make you like the Wilpons any more.
    Have a great Sunday!

  • Greg Mitchell

    Certainly agree with overall criticism of the Wilpons but have to disagree with emphasis on ‘low’ budget. Actually it’s not low at all, and hasn’t been for awhile, but the problem is how it’s been spent–with so much tied up with Cespedes, for example. And decisions on managers, general manager, draft picks, trades. Also the “young talent” is also in oft-injured pitchers and disappointments like Conforto and Dom Smith, or unproven (Rosario). Even Nimmo–can’t hit lefties. And no help on way. Lack of money spent is far from biggest issue.

  • greggofboken

    I cannot do it.

    Not when I look at how Cleveland, Seattle, Houston, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Arizona are all doing more with less.

    Certainly I’d rather we had less meddlesome ownership than Jeff Wilpon. Certainly I wish we’d had more appropriately deep pockets than what Fred is equipping us with.

    But the now-barren farm, the older roster, the reliance on the ineffective cost efficiency of free agency, the extremely poor grocery shopping in terms of talent acquisition, the tapping of someone without one lick of experience in the role for on-field management — these are the purview of the G.M.

    I find the focus on All Things Wilpon to be a dodgy proposition providing smoke and cover for Alderson’s poor management of this situation.

    The thing that I do find scariest about ownership, is that his departure — which wold be justified and otherwise something to hope for — would likely result in the promotion of John Ricco and greater involvement from Jeff Wilpon.

    And — despite Alderson’s ineffectiveness — that would only make things worse.

    • Matt in Woodside

      I agree. The Dodgers and Giants are both .500 teams right now, and they’ve got the second and third highest payrolls in the MLB. And the Cubs, with the fourth highest payroll, are currently behind the Brewers who have the 26th ranked payroll. A scant $6 million separates the payroll of the Mets with the Houston Astros, who won the World Series last season and are currently tied for first in the AL West (ahead of the Angels, with their sixth highest payroll, natch). And we’re currently getting outperformed by the Braves and Philles, with the 21st and 24th ranked payrolls, $34 million and $56 million less than the Mets, respectively. Oh, and don’t forget the Nationals with their fifth ranked payroll, which has won them a handful of division titles and absolutely nothing else.

      The problem with the Wilpons isn’t the money. That’s an argument that played out almost a decade ago. And in terms of meddling, that also seems like a story from the past. I can’t recall the last time I saw Jeff or Fred Wilpon in the news.

      I think the issue is that MLB is going through a sea change in terms of organizational philosophies, where everyone is looking to get younger and lean on scouting and prospects, and the Mets are one of the most veteran heavy teams. We also traded a lot of promising players to get to the postseason in 2015 and 2016. And the organization makes decisions like “hey, Brandon Nimmo is a really good young patient hitter. Let’s resign Jay Bruce and put Nimmo on the bench! (Until we have so many outfielders on the DL that Bruce is playing out the season on a bad foot and Nimmo finally gets some starting time!)” Also, yesterday’s lineup changes aside, Callaway’s continued insistence on batting Rosario–recently considered the organization’s most promising prospect–ninth, has been baffling.

      tl;dr It’s not the money. The Mets have plenty of recent experience building paper tigers.

  • Dave

    Different day, same vomit and piss out the window (thank you, Jason, for being blunt and colorful where blunt is needed and colorful adds to the fun). My emotional attachment to so-called friends like that never ran as deep as my emotional attachment to this so-called baseball team. So I abandoned those people at least. The Mets I’m still stuck with, although I might have something better to do tonight than watch more network announcers express their desire for intimacy with each Yankee player while declaring that the Mets better trade deGrom and Syndergaard, and fast.

    The dog days of summer came early this year.

  • Michael in CT

    While all of what has been said about the Wilpons, Alderson, over-the-hill players etc is true, the one positive here of late has been the starting pitching. What would happen if we let these starters pitch until they lost effectiveness rather than take them out based on pitch counts? Baseball was once played that way. If the Mets of the late 60s and early 70s took Seaver and Koosman out in the 7th inning just because they had thrown 100 pitches, we may well have not had the success of ’69 and the near-success of ’73. The fragility of the modern pitcher remains baffling to me. Or the Wilpons could have invested in a stronger bullpen, but then we’re back to that sad song.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    When that semi decent line drive left Jose’s bat and seemed for about a fifth of a second slightly possibly a game winning double down the line my first reaction was “Oh no, now he’ll be here for another two months”.

    Regardless of the fact that he looked completely lost, as usual, on the first two pitches.

    So long Jose.

    • Jacobs27

      I hear ya. But we’re not that jaded, are we?

      Despite his having no business being on the roster anymore, if Reyes’ liner had touched grass it would have been a wonderful, strange, unlikely, ironic moment of the that kind makes baseball fun and rewards our irrational faith and emotional investment. To hell with the Wilpons and all the egregious mismanagement of the Mets; it would have been a reprieve from all that.

      It may be a suckers’ game, but as long as I’m gonna be a sucker, I’d prefer to have my moments.

  • Orange and blue through and through

    Does anybody here remember the St. Louis Browns? ‘Nuff said.

  • JoeyC

    1. Completely agree on the Wilpon analysis.
    2. Alderson has failed to produce a winning team. However, that was never the objective. His goal was keep a team on the field that can turn a profit. His brand of baseball has not worked. He has made money for the Wilpons though. It’s dead obvious.
    3. Wonder if Jeff is the real general manager. The Mets do operate in Bizarro World, like they’re run by a meddling owner. We know Jeff set those amateurish dimensions at Citi. He did go talk to Cespedes on the practice field and the next day Cespedes decided to go to Binghamton.
    4. The comment by K. Latisma is great. There is a Pulitzer Prize story here, unreported, about the financial mess and how it has impacted the performance of the club. This sweetheart deal Bud Selig struck is crying for real reporting. Also as yet unindicted is the sports press. They simply refuse to accurately and diligently report what really goes on in the clubhouse, off the field, and in the front office, because they don’t want to lose access. Sportswriters are not known for investigatory prowess or courage. They have trouble understanding what occurs on the field and don’t try to understand what goes on off the field and how that impacts play. It’s going to take someone outside of the Mets beat to report this correctly. Or, to report this at all.
    5. We customers and consumers must recognize that that is what we really are. Fans are powerless; financial backers are powerful. We support this. We allow this to continue. We stood up in the late 70s and early 80s and said no, we’re not taking this. We got a championship in return. Time has come today.

  • Greg Pattenaude

    Thank you Jason! You’ve clearly identified the problem, as many in this thread have noted. Wilpons have developed a business plan that doesn’t require winning. T shirts, bobble heads, concerts, and a food court masquerading as a ball park under control of a meddling COO in baseball affairs. When Doubleday had enough and sold his share to Fred and family, Chris Russo warned us all on the air: be very aware when a son is installed to run the team. He was 100% right. And there is no path forward for fans that yields a different result.

  • Bob

    You guys and others on this site help me keep what’s left of my sanity after 54+ years of being a Met fan.
    Thank you all!
    There is nothing left for me to say–or even think anymore about this Mets team (except Jesse Gonder and Marv Throneberry would be an improvement).
    How bad can they get?–don’t ask…
    Met Fan since Polo Grounds–1963

  • Steve D

    A lot of great points by everybody. Remember the Wilpons used to spend freely…signed Beltran, Johan, Pedro for big bucks. Their lack of spending now seems to be related to all the debt they have. Remember they probably made money with Madoff…they were an early investor. They over extended themselves counting on the Madoff gains continuing and much of their past gains vaporized. They are probably ok for now since real estate is in a new bubble.

    Where does this leave us? As I have been mentioning, this is the worst franchise in history at developing hitters. This is not just a Wilpon issue…it has gone on for 56 years. One thing I do know…Jeff Wilpon has no ability to run a winning franchise and turn this around unless they find a good baseball person and get out of the way. Even then it will take years to develop a farm system and will require money. Just sell the team please. A boycott might help speed this up…I for one don’t spend the money I used to on this team. I only usually go when someone offers me a free ticket.

  • Aram G

    Remember, Bud Selig and MLB forced Frank McCourt out as Dodgers owner even though they spent on payroll and were competitive every year. Yet Bud allowed his good buddy Fred Wilpon to skate

  • Luis Venitucci

    I am not a particularly good looking guy, nor rich, but thank God I don’t look like Jeff Wilpon..

  • Left Coast Jerry

    How bad is the Mets offense? On Tuesday, the Mets got 1 run and 2 hits off Alex Cobb in 6 innings. Cobb entered the game with an ERA over 6. Today, the same Alex Cobb gave the Blue Jays 9 runs and 11 hits in less than 4 innings, including a 3 run jack by Curtis Granderson.

    I think I have a better chance of waking up tomorrow and finding I’m 7 feet than the Mets doing any damage against Severino tonight.

  • Pete the Midnight Golfer

    Bud the Clown appointed Sandy as the caretaker of our Mets after the bumbling Wilpons kept kicking the baseball instead of picking it up. The Wilpons think they are shrewd business operatives when they are merely impostors. They got in on the Madoff scheme giddy with excitement at those graphs Bernie showed them. Now they are down to checking the sales of soda and parking receipts to add to their cable sports network. If they can hide under the desk like George for a bit longer, maybe we won’t notice them. Too late Jeffie, we’re sending you to negotiate a fermented chicken beverage deal. Oh dear, I’m losing it. Better stop. Wilpons sell the team!!!