The stories detailing just how much the Wilpons have screwed up their finances have to stop at some point, don't they?
Perhaps, but that day is not Wednesday. The Times, who probably shouldn't count on any subscriptions from the Wilpon clan any time soon, nailed them again with an article exposing the amount of debt that has been added to the ledger in recent years. Shortly after the Madoff scheme came crumbling down, eight banks joined together to rework some 40 loans worth $500 million that Sterling Equities needed to remain in business. That added $100 million in debt, but it didn't end there
When the Wilpons were starting SNY, they needed to buy out their existing cable contract. To do so, they took out a loan using one of their Madoff accounts as collateral. Those Madoff accounts often served such a role, with the money borrowed going right back into investments with the sham financier. They also took out a $450 million loan on SNY last year and a $375 million financing of the Mets, giving them a much-needed cash infusion but leaving their empire in the hands of banks that have to be feeling pretty nervous right now.
What does all of this mean to the Mets? It all comes back to the lawsuit filed by the Madoff trustee, obviously. If things go against the Wilpons and they are forced to pay off a large judgment against them, then it seems impossible for them to avoid selling the team to satisfy their creditors. All of which means that this backdrop of gloom won't be disappearing from the team anytime soon and, given the history of other teams in financial turmoil, that doesn't bode well for the team.
That's really a shame, because there's actually reason to feel positive about the Mets right now. Sandy Alderson's reorganization of the team appears to be heading in the right direction. He's changed the way scouts operate, asking them to take a more in-depth approach to knowing the other 29 teams in the league. He has also continued to add bodies on minor league contracts, something that will give the organization greater overall depth.
Both of those things are big changes from the way Omar Minaya did business, a shift that should be filling Mets fans with happiness about where the team is going. Thanks to the guys who hired Alderson, that's impossible at the present moment. But it does sit out there on the horizon, a brighter day that just needs outside forces to help it dawn.