Monday, May 23, 2011

Wilpon owes his players an apology

I was in Las Vegas this weekend so I missed most of the Subway Series between the New York Yankees and the Mets, which the Yankees won by taking two out of three (although they really wasted Freddy Garcia's fine outing on Friday night). But I came back just in time to see the Mets really start to implode.

Mets owner Fred Wilpon was the subject of an extensive profile in the New Yorker magazine. Ostensibly, the story was about how Wilpon is dealing with the aftermath of the fraud perpetrated by Bernie Madoff and whether it might force him to sell the Mets outright rather than just a huge chunk of the team. But his negative comments about his own players have garnered the most attention, mostly because they were both shocking and ill advised.

It doesn’t matter that Wilpon happens to be right: that David Wright is a good player but not a superstar, that the often-injured Jose Reyes doesn’t deserve Carl Crawford money and that he overpaid for Carlos Beltran’s services. Sure, it’s his team and he can say whatever he wants, especially if he is unhappy with the way the team is performing. But it was unwise of Wilpon to focus so much negative attention on a team he really needs to do well without even acknowledging the fact that he is partially responsible for the cloud the Mets are playing under.

I wonder how Wilpon would feel if one of his players called him a lousy owner for his blind faith and trust in Madoff, which directly led to the team's current financial predicament and is partly responsible for the on-field mess. Given the perfect opportunity to bash his owner, Wright took the high road and basically wrote off Wilpon’s comments to stress. I admire the young Wright’s restraint, which I hope Wilpon is grateful for. I don’t think I would have been nearly as calm and thoughtful.

This New Yorker story seems like a poor attempt to spin Wilpon’s role in the Madoff mess more positively, but the owner really should be keeping as low a profile as possible as he tries to fight his way out of a hell partly of his own making. He really should apologize to his players not just for his thoughtless comments, but for the mess they are being forced to live with on a daily basis.

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