Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mets' nightmare not close to over

The Mets’ long, Bernie Madoff-induced nightmare continues and they could soon be forced to part with millions of dollars.

A trial is set for March to determine whether Irving Picard, the trustee for the Madoff victims, can force the Mets to give up more than $300 million in principal they invested with the Ponzi schemer. But Picard is not waiting until then to try to compel the Mets to give up the $83 million in fictitious profits than made as part of the scheme. Although the Mets are fighting back and seeking to have the whole case dismissed, even the judge concedes that Picard could prevail in attempting to claw those fake profits out of the hands of Wilpon & Co.

Given the Mets’ precarious financial situation, just losing $83 million would be devastating. Even if the Mets are ultimately successful in preventing the trustee from getting more money out of them, just having to part with that much dough could force the Wilpons to cut payroll and squeeze every last dime out of their baseball operations. What that means is that what is best for the baseball team would no longer matter and any Mets player making decent money that can be moved will be out the door. They already had to sit back and watch helplessly as Jose Reyes headed for Miami. Who will be next? 

This whole situation is just sad, but the trial itself, if it gets to that point, will be fascinating to watch. I’m curious to see how much of an impact the trial fallout will have on the New York Yankees’ cross-town rivals. As I’ve said before, I think it’s better for New York and for Major League Baseball in general to have a healthy (both physically and financially) Mets franchise. But I suspect this nightmare will continue to haunt the Mets well into the 2012 baseball season and perhaps beyond.

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