We can finally stop wondering whether investing with Bernie Madoff will wind up causing Fred Wilpon and his family to lose control of the Mets.
Monday's settlement before the clawback suit went to trial means that the Wilpons are going to be in charge of the Mets for a good long time. The $162 million settlement is less than the suit was seeking and it seems unlikely that the Wilpons would have settled if they couldn't have afforded paying the penalty.
So while $162 million may be a nice chunk of change, it is a good-looking number for an embattled ownership. It ends the years of speculation about how much money they'd need to have on hand to satisfy any judgment, and, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com points out, they actually stand to get some of the money back because they were also victims of Madoff's schemes.
How much money isn't known at this point and it will be several years before the Wilpons will have to make any payments as trustee Irving Picard continues to sort out how much money he's able to recover for Madoff victims. That leaves them free to work on paying down their other debts, selling the minority shares (although it looks like most of them are going to remain in house) and get their financial house in order after an uncertain few years.
None of that will be a walk in the park, but it is far better than the way things looked a couple of weeks ago when they were on the wrong side of a judgment calling for them to pay $83 million in damages before a trial even started. Now that this is all settled, the Mets can go back to being a baseball team instead of a pawn in financial wheeling and dealing.
That is still going to be rough going for a while. Sandy Alderson isn't going to suddenly get a ton of money to spend on the team.
But after spending two years paring down the payroll while building the farm system, there's no reason to switch gears and change the plan even as the future looks brighter than it has for a while. The other debt (and the continuing issues with selling tickets) means that austerity will still be the order of the day for a bit longer.
That might not make Mets fans feel too thrilled and the Wilpons remaining in power might also be met with some disgust, but this is a good day for the team. Certainty, even certainty involving the Wilpons, is better than the uncertainty that has enveloped the team for the last few years because it shows the way forward.
Now if they could just get David Wright back on the field, Mike Pelfrey pitching like a consistent winner and a couple dozen other things, all will be well in the world of the Mets.