Saturday, February 12, 2011

Can anyone save the Mets?

Mario Cuomo is coming in to mediate the dispute between the Mets and the trustee in the Bernie Madoff case. Good. The Mets need all the help they can get.

Even as a die-hard New York Yankees fan, I take no joy in the current mess that the Mets are grappling with. The Wilpons are trying to settle a case that’s going to cost them hundreds of millions of dollars, but they will be forced to part with a chunk of their baseball team (if not the entire team) to do so. The result is that their team is in a terrible limbo with this mess bound to hang over the heads of their current players, staff and their entire operation. It will be a huge question mark for players they try to trade for or sign (if they even have money to spend). The rivalry between the Yankees and the Mets is better when both teams are relatively strong and it’s clear that the Mets will be a shell of the competitive team they used to field for a long time to come.

I don’t blame Irving Picard for going hard after the Mets. He is trying to get as much dough as he can for the real victims of Madoff, those people who put their retirement savings in his hands. What’s most disturbing about his complaint is that it alleges the Mets ignored certain signs that could have helped stopped the fraud a long time ago. If sophisticated investors like the Wilpons couldn’t or wouldn’t stand up to Madoff, the retirees he stole money from never had a chance.

I doubt that anyone can save the Mets, but Cuomo is a good pick to try. As a former governor of New York State, he is used to dealing with nasty partisan disputes and bickering (and this contest will continue to get uglier and uglier as the Mets defend themselves against Picard’s accusations). Hopefully Cuomo can figure out a way to get the two sides to come to an agreement that works for both of them, getting as much money out of the Mets without crippling the franchise forever.

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