SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

Name:

Not much to tell.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, February 07, 2011

More on the Mets

Will the Mets have to be sold? Here's an update on the situation from ESPN.com.

Here's the sitch: basically, you have a trustee who has some bucks who's pursuing with great vigor those who were at the front end of the Ponzi scheme to beat all Ponzi schemes. This is a guy with nothing to lose, willing to invest say a cool million to fund the litigation to bring in a million. Okay, so perhaps the litigation will cost two million, but the guy will fight tooth and nail, ask for a jury trial in a city known for wacky jury verdicts (what city isn't?), and he'll try to recover funds for the poor widows of Palm Beach whose husbands trusted Bernie because, well, how could they not have invested with Bernie when every one else was doing it? Get the latest Benz, the latest wife, the latest Gucci and, invest with the guy who guaranteed the returns.

But when everything goes bad, you get a receiver, a trustee, and sometimes these guys are bottom fishers, the guys who don't get the corporate bankruptcies but get the individual ones, where they get a flat fee, do routine and good work, but get no glamor and make their money on volume. That, though, is not this, where you've attracted the big-time lawyers who shop at the best stores wearing the suits with the sleeves with the functioning buttons, the shirts made of Sea Island Cotton (or the cotton of choice at the moment), the Hermes ties, the Lobb custom-made shoes, or, alternatively, the guys who buy off-the-rack from Jos. A. Bank who's dads were fighters for the good and dissed by the guys like Madoff, who always seemed to know better and have the angle. No matter how you slice it, they're sharp guys, they have good theories, they can hire good lawyers, and, most importantly, they have nothing to lose. Which makes them the Chaminade to the Wilpons' Virginia, the Princeton to the Wilpons' whomever, draw your analogy. They'll go the distance, they'll draw blood, and, well, they could win a split decision.

Today's article in The Wall Street Journal was somewhat instructive. The lawyer for the trustee was quoted as saying that they'd settle for nothing short of a billion (the last time I checked, most people don't have that type of coin lying around). Then the article went on to say that the trustee is hoping to settle for about $300 million (the last time I checked, most people don't have that type of coin lying around, either). Which seems to suggest that the Wilpons probably have liquidity problems, which means, then, that their beloved Mets could be on the block. That's bad news for the Wilpons, but perhaps great news for Met fans if the Wilpons a) decide to sell and b) sell to the right type of rich guy who will try to nuke the Phillies, at least baseball-wise and take the Mets out of their current version of baseball hell.

Except, of course, for a few details. First, a claim is a claim is a claim. The trustee has to prove what he alleges, and the Wilpons can afford high-priced legal talent of their own. Also, the last time I checked, people who have their entire empire to defend make a formidable opponent, perhaps even more so than their attackers, who, in this case, are transient and will move on to another cause when they find the right client, the right bucks and the right publicity. The Wilpons won't go down without a fight. Second, the Wilpons, determined to hold on, will be the last to part with their trophy. Which means, of course, that this could be a prolonged and nasty fight. Needless to say, unless the Wilpons see their situation as dire and want the Mets to move on more quickly than they otherwise might were they to fight until they and not the trustee were to emerge from the steel cage, the Mets' situation could be in limbo for a few years.

Good news if you live 90 miles to the south, bad news if you want to see a winner in Citi Field soon.

So, look for this drama to be compelling if not as spectacular as the Elliot Spitzer chronicles or Andrew Cuomo's one-man attempt to be the Democrat to humble the traditional constituencies of his party. And it won't eclipse, at least not yet, the public mourning over the Yankees' lack of pitching or the Jets' inability to stop the Steelers' running game. Still, it's another chapter in a tragedy, and this Phillies' fan will be the first to admit that the N.L. East (and N.L.) is at its best when the Phillies and Mets have each other to chase (and the Mets' owners would have been better off had they put their money in Chase).

Stay tuned for the next chapter. If you're a Mets' fan, you should hope that you'll switch from a Dickensian theme to one of sorcerers, magicians and, well, just plain hope.