Closing the Book on Fred Wilpon's Busy Week

What's the lasting damage of Wilpon's words?

It's just about time to turn the page, literally and figuratively, on the pair of interviews that Fred Wilpon gave this week.

Everyone has shared their opinions, shaken their head or simply laughed at the latest firestorm to engulf a franchise that's become far too accustomed to dealing with them. You can tell how good everyone has gotten with dealing with these things by the way they react.

Mike Pelfrey went with humor while Jose Reyes offered the Derek Jeter-trademarked New York shortstop blend of contempt veiled with a shrug that said it is his team and he can do whatever he wants to do with it, even if it is totally stupid. Reyes, along with Carlos Beltran and David Wright, got an apology from Wilpon for what he said to the New Yorker, but some don't feel that goes far enough.

Mike Vaccaro of the Post thinks Wilpon should apologize to Mets fans for calling his club crappy (sanitzed for your pleasure). Vaccaro quotes one season ticket holder as saying that he feels "swindled" in the aftermath of Wilpon's comments because he paid good money to see a team the owner compared to feces. 

It's a hard bandwago to jump aboard. It's certainly an awful marketing ploy by Wilpon, but how in the world was this fellow not aware of the state of this team when he plunked down his hard earned cash?

These are the Mets that just about everyone expected to see on the field this season and Wilpon's comments don't have a thing to do with the level of talent on the field. It is impossible to accept the argument that you feel swindled now when you spent money on exactly the product you thought you were purchasing when you signed the check.

That said, Wilpon's comments do have an effect on the fan base. Howard Megdal of the LoHud Mets Blog (and a new book about his quest to run the team he loves) wrote a thoughtful post Wednesday about the crushing impact Wilpon's words have on the hope of the team's fans for the rest of this year and 2012. 

This is about more than his assessments of the players, it is also about his candid commentary about the financial state of affairs in Queens and what it means for the near future of the franchise. Hope is one of the great things about being a sports fan and it is terribly hard to extinguish, but Megdal makes a pretty strong argument for why there's little reason for it to exist at Citi Field these days.

The whole thing brought to mind a quote from "The Shawshank Redemption": "Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

Hope can come back and it can come back sooner than you'd expect because, no matter how embarrassing Wilpon might be, people like to feel hopeful. They especially like to feel that way about sports because there's really not much point in being a sports fan when all you see is the negative side of things.

Another line from the same movie came to mind when reading the thoughts of another excellent Mets writer, Greg Prince of Faith and Fear in Flushing, as he described the exhaustion he's feeling with the team right now. The line, along with Prince's reasonable take, makes a pretty persuasive argument for letting go of hope. 

"Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

It is difficult to imagine losing hope in a team you love, but perhaps it is for the best right now. Letting the hope go away means that it can't continually be crushed, something that's going to keep happening until someone else is running this team.

If Wilpon owes anybody an apology, it is for making that feel like a plausible step to take in fandom. That's about much more than making a derogatory comment about the team, it is about everything that has gone on with this franchise under his watch and for making you wonder if there's really any point to giving your energy to something that offers so little reward for your devotion.

Wilpon didn't say anything that most Mets fans, deep down in a place they don't like to talk about, already knew for themselves. He just made it impossible to ignore and that's the crying shame of the whole situation.

That seems like as good a place as any to end the Wilpon-centric portion of our week. We desperately hope that the owner cooperates.  

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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