Mar 02

Impact of Wilpon’s financial problems already being felt.

F. WILPON: There's a Ponzi connection to the field.

Some have suggested the product on the field has not yet been impacted by the Ponzi scheme, but that is hardly close to the truth. In fact, much of what the Mets are doing with their team is directly resulted in the fallout from the Madoff situation.

There were rumblings of the Wilpons being in financial straits for over a year now, with a clear sign last July at the trade deadline when the Mets, within striking distance of the wild card, stood pat and did nothing to improve their club. It takes money to win and the Mets added no significant payroll at a time when they could have improved their team and made a change in the attitude at Citi Field.

A second clear sign – although we didn’t learn of this until recently – was receiving a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball at the end of last season. This is a team, despite a new stadium, that was beginning to swim in debt. If we had known it then, we could have been spared the off-season angst of them not doing anything in the winter.

Sign three, and very significant, was the hiring of general manager Sandy Alderson at MLB’s urging. Commissioner Bud Selig took a proactive approach in getting Alderson hired by the Wilpon’s, perhaps in large part, to be a caretaker for the franchise as it explores minority ownership investors and later a possible sale.

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Feb 16

Don’t get excited about ownership news

Bernie Madoff’s confession that the Wilpons “knew nothing,” about his Ponzi scheme coupled with the news Fred Wilpon talking with Donald Trump about purchasing a portion of the Mets makes for interesting copy, but don’t put too much stock into it turning the franchise around.

Translation: Still no big spending.

Madoff is in jail for fraud, lying and stealing so what is his word worth anyway? Madoff’s confession certainly won’t get the lawyers off the Wilpon’s back so the lawsuit will go on as planned.

As for Trump, well, his money would indeed help and he’s indicated a willingness to help the Wilpons. However, his reputation is not for playing second string so I don’t see him, or any other investor for that matter, spending millions and not getting a say in the way things are handled. That’s just not his style.

It is also not the Wilpons’ style to give up control. Today in Port St. Lucie, Jeff Wilpon insisted to reporters that controlling interest in the team is not for sale.

“We’re not selling controlling interest in the team. It’s not on the table,” said.

Perhaps more importantly, Major League Baseball won’t allow Trump to invest in any percentage of the team as long as he owns casinos. MLB has hard rules on gambling and there will be no allowing him to own part of a team if he’s connected with gambling. At one time, MLB banned both Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays from baseball while they were employed after their careers at casinos.

Oct 27

Mets to name Alderson

He was the favorite from the moment he announced his interest in the job, and a formality after being endorsed by commissioner Bud Selig. Although the Mets have not officially done so, the announcement of Sandy Alderson for the organization’s GM position is forthcoming – Friday during the World Series travel day.

ALDERSON: It's a new day.

Alderson beat out Josh Byrnes for the job, so it was a win-win for the Mets regardless. The Mets ran a thorough search, interviewing a long list of qualified candidates. It’s hard to think any of the choices would have been bad, but Alderson is off the charts.

Alderson has a sterling reputation in the sport having brought winning to Oakland and San Diego, and with his work in MLB and in Latin America. Alderson brings credibility to an organization that has long needed it; he brings decisiveness and toughness which has long been lacking.

Perhaps, above all, he brings with him the tools for change and the knowledge it won’t come overnight. Rebuilding the Mets will be a long process as several bulky contracts will weigh the team down for any immediate influx of talent in 2011.

Alderson is 62, but that’s a number. He’s a progressive thinker who has done it. His reputation is such that he’ll bring in quality people and implement a system that works.

I really like this move because it is no a quick fix. He isn’t the flavor-of-the-month the way Omar Minaya was when he took over.

The Mets are immediately better today because they sent the message they are serious and the rest of baseball believes them.

Oct 26

Changing the culture should be new GM’s first step.

PEREZ: New GM must cut ties right away.

The Mets could name Sandy Alderson as their new general manager, with the announcement coming as soon as Friday, the first travel day during the World Series. That’s the likely day as MLB requires teams from withholding such announcements as not to disrupt the World Series.

Alderson is having his second interview today.

Assuming it is Alderson, the most important thing he can initially do is change the culture of the Mets and that won’t be with the announcement of the new manager. The single most critical action stop the new general manager can do to signify change to the Mets’ players and their disgruntled fan base would be to convince ownership Oliver Perez has to go.

Perez personifies the mistakes of the Omar Minaya regime and sucks the life and energy out of the team. The Mets played with 24 players for much of the season because of Perez’s refusal to help himself. It was an intolerable situation, one that can’t repeat itself.

Getting rid of Perez will not change the fact the Mets still must pay him $12 million for 2011, but having him gone rids the organization of a disruptive, non-productive and selfish player. Such a move immediately screams the culture is changing. It says the Mets “are as mad as hell and won’t take it anymore.”

The new general manager will have a myriad of decisions to make, but nothing that would change the perception of the organization, both inside and out, as significantly at first as getting rid of Perez.

Such a move would tell Mets’ fans the organization is willing to break with its past reputation of not eating bad contracts. It acknowledges the team made a disastrous mistake and is willing to move on.

Above all, it is a proactive move. There is no more hoping or wishing for Perez to turn it around. Wishing is not a strategy. Wishing prohibits doing and the new general manager must be about doing.

And that message must come right away.

Sep 21

Bay’s Future in Doubt?

No one can say for certain if Boston poisoned Bay’s water before he ended up in a Mets’ uniform, but the once big-time slugger has experienced a falling off of monumental proportions this season. That’s not to say that some hasn’t been injury-induced; and any transplant from an AL lineup gets a season of doubt’s benefit. But in plain English, Bay simply didn’t pan out like the Mets had hoped.

Now it seems that the young ballplayer’s future may be hanging in the balance altogether after a July 22 concussion that Jason’s seemingly not recovering from.

Bay had left a game earlier this year due to leg problems, had taken a few off like a baby Manny for minor ailments and, after smacking into the wall at Dodger Stadium in late July, was eventually diagnosed with a “mild” concussion.

The Mets originally placed Bay on the 15-day DL due to his concussion, but now have moved that to 60 days. It’s an obvious move to give Bay time to heal properly in a season that went nowhere fast, but the interesting part in this is that Bay was also said to have been suffering from physical exertion.

On its surface, Bay’s odds of coming back at a full strength—and hopefully a lot more effective—next season are solid – a good 5:3. However, in light of recent scientific advancements on brain injuries and their link to long-term diseases, the odds that Bay will be “okay” in his later years are another story – maybe 20:1.

Sadly, you’ll find better odds playing online slots, and that’s tragic for Bay and every other player to suffer concussions and then not heal properly. It’s bad news, and there’s no getting around it.

Thanks to Chris Nowinski, his partners, and many volunteered brains of former athletes, the first major cause of—the ironically named in Bay’s or any other MLB player’s case—Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS, has been found.

In every brain submitted to Chris from an ALS patient, one factor was present – the brain displayed symptoms of concussions that did not heal properly and thus sent protein deposits into the spinal cord. After years of buildup, these young athletes contracted ALS.

The odds of suffering concussions and contracting ALS are slim on their own, about 1000:1 – better than you’d find on any online blackjack games to be sure. But concussions that don’t heal properly, and those with other complications, are another story. These are the concussions that produce the proteins, and these proteins can produce ALS.

In an investigation into Lou Gehrig’s personal history, HBO’s Real Sports’ host Bernie Goldberg found that Gehrig had suffered multiple concussions during his time on the field, some severe enough to leave him unconscious. And let’s not forget that Gehrig was Cal Ripken decades before there was a Cal Ripken – he was the Iron Horse, never missing a game.

Hopefully, Bay will heal just fine and won’t suffer the fate of the dreaded protein deposits from this concussion. And the Mets’ kid gloves approach really bodes well for his future. But knowing what we know now about the horrible disease and its cause, it truly makes you take a harder look at athletes and question how they’re “really” recovering from injuries.