Mets fans have had a dream for a few years now that they would wake up one morning and find out that Fred Wilpon was no longer the owner of the New York Mets.
That morning isn't coming anytime soon, according to Wilpon. He met with reporters in Port St. Lucie on Monday and promised/threatened to hold onto the club today, tomorrow and beyond.
"They shouldn't be concerned about us owning the franchise because we intend to own the franchise for a very long time," Wilpon said. "Whether they're happy about that right now or not, I don't know."
We're pretty sure that last part is a joke, because even Wilpon can't possibly be that out of touch with reality. Wilpon opened the presser by showing reporters a roll of cash with a $5 bill on the outside while saying he's doing fine financially, so it's not like he's a great comedian.
At any rate, fans aren't happy that their team has been stripped to the point that Jeff Wilpon spent Monday handing out Underdog t-shirts to the players on the team. They aren't happy that the Wilpons helicoptered from Mets camp down to Miami to see the Heat-Knicks game last week while overseeing a team that are underdogs because of their financial decisions.
But, sure, have a little fun at their expense. It should go over pretty well.
Fred Wilpon then tried to pass off the largest-ever payroll cut in baseball history as solely the work of Sandy Alderson's desire for more payroll flexibility, but flexibility indicates an ability to add salary that doesn't appear to exist for the Mets.
When just about every dollar you're trying to raise through sales of minority shares in the franchise is earmarked for paying back debt and attendance projections don't provide much revenue, there's no flexibility.
There was discussion of those minority shares, which, according to Wilpon, have been going very well. He said the team might wind up selling 12 instead of 10 at $20 million each and that seven have been approved by MLB.
Four of those seven shares are being bought by SNY, owned in part by the Wilpons, and two are being bought by members of the Wilpon family, which doesn't really speak all that well about the outsiders view of getting in line behind debtors and, potentially, winners of the Bernie Madoff clawback suit.
The money is in escrow until the team gets 10 investors anyway so all remains fairly moot for the moment, no matter what Wilpon says about the people lining up to give him money.
The non-Wilpon investor is Steve Cohen, the hedge fund king who is also bidding to buy the Dodgers and is apparently giving the Mets money to curry favor with Bud Selig. Why the commissioner of baseball is so dead set on keeping the Wilpons in charge of a franchise that should be a jewel when he made the opposite ruling in regard to the Dodgers has to do with the power of friendship over wise stewardship of the game, but, like everything Wilpon said Monday, it doesn't come as much of a surprise.
Wilpon has never given the slightest hint that anything other than a total financial Armageddon caused by a loss in the Madoff suit that is scheduled to go to trial next month would lead to the sale of the team. Monday's statement simply doubled down on that while spreading a little bit more of the barely believable comments about the state of the team -- financially and athletically -- that he's specialized in over the last few years.
Nothing to see here, which might well become the motto of the 2012 Mets season.