Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who Wants To Buy Part Of A Minor League Baseball Team?

Yeah, that's right. I don't know if any of you heard, part of the delightful fallout from that whole "Madoff thing" is that there's a baseball club that's looking for some minority investors. Some of you may never have actually heard of this "baseball team" because their performance over the past few years has called into question whether or not they are a "real" baseball team, but sure enough they've been playing 162 games a year -- no more than 162, let's be clear -- right here in the Big Apple.

Come on. You've heard of them.

Yes, that's right people. Mets chairman Fred Wilpon and his son Jeff announced this week both with a released statement, a press conference, and a personal e-mail to their fans which made me feel oh so special, that they have decided to explore finding new investors interested in a minority stake in the New York Mets. A real live baseball team!

Now, if you've been following the 'Ropolitans like I have for more than a decade, this announcement seems like a particularly odd one for the Wilpons to make for a few reasons. For one, they've done an extremely large amount of work over recent years to consolidate and improve the financial potency of the franchise. The introduction of SNY in 2006 has gone quite a distance to bring more money into the team's coffers and give them a financial base, ideally, more in line with those crosstown rivals in the Bronx. In addition to that, the recent construction of the Wilpon moneyfactory, also known as Citi Field, was further intended to strengthen the team's position. Lastly, and perhaps most notably, Fred Wilpon has tried awfully hard to make sure this team would belong to him and only him.

Obviously, given the track record of one Fred Wilpon, it seems patently bizarre that he would want to unload a chunk of his baby just as he's finally prepared the setup to make the team flourish financially even if it doesn't do the same on the field. So what gives?

Oh right. That.

It seems someone has decided that considering lots of people have lost money due to the pyramid scheme of Bernie Madoff, and because the Wilpons, who had hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in those investments, um, didn't, they must be the perfect people to sue to get that money back. What with Bernie being in jail and all -- without his Mets jacket -- it makes sense. I won't claim to understand how all the legal liabilities work in this thing since I'm, you know, not a lawyer, and I'm sure there's a legitimate reason why the Wilpons might possibly be somehow liable in this whole horror story, but it all seems kind of silly to me. Regardless however, absolutely none of that matters. The only thing of note is this:

There's a part of the Mets for sale!

Why is this so exciting? Well, some people might claim it is, in fact, not exciting at all, and while Rob Parker may have a point here, he's also an unnecessary provocateur and an asshole, so I'm going to ignore him for the moment. No, for me this is more exciting because I've just realized this is as good a prospect as any to pull some money together and own a baseball team. Indeed, that prospect was the very first idea I had when I first saw the story.

Shockingly none of my other potential investors seem interested in joining in despite my assurances that the Mets could not possibly be worth more than $10,000 or so given their on-field performance the last few years, but the bigger obstacle than this might be competition. And apparently that competition is coming. My guess is these other potential owners are going to jack the price out of my personal range, but let me state this right here for all who are interested.


Is that clear? I want to buy the Mets, I want to pool money to get the job done and I will actively seek partners. Not only will owning a piece of a Major League Baseball team be a great source of pride, but we'll get to see any Mets game we want for free (probably) and it'll totally help us get chicks. Or men if that's your fancy. Plus, I'm totally a really serious big time Mets fan. Just look at that picture of what I wore to my brother's wedding this summer to the right. I'm totally right for it. If I somehow won't be the right person for the job, the list of potential minority owners is certainly interesting.

My personal preference is for the minority bid to go to a group that is headed by Martin Luther King III, which also involves former Met Ed Kranepool and the son of Mets great Donn Clendenon. Failing that, however, the likely bid being brought forward by Martin Silver, the owner of Georgi Vodka, will at least make those long painful days at the park go faster.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more appropriate it seems to align the classy Mets organization with the class of a brand of vodka that is sold in plastic bottles.

If I'm unable to get my hands on any piece of the Mets, I will simply have to settle for watching the Wilpons' iron grip on the franchise slowly recede, which, given the team's prospects since they gained full control of the franchise, probably isn't the worst thing as I've noted before. Now to be fair, I suspect that regardless of ownership, the administration of Sandy Alderson will bring a much more professional auspice to the franchise and that success will follow, much as it did with Frank Cashen in the early 1980s, but giving the Wilpons less power couldn't hurt. And in the end, the prospect of the team forcibly getting better ownership is really enough for me.

Considering that this weekend already saw Southampton blow a second-half lead in the FA Cup against Manchester United and that Northwestern blew a tantalizingly close chance at knocking off No. 1 Ohio State, well, the promise that the Mets are on the way to better times would help salve those wounds. The fact that I also booked a flight to beautiful Detroit for a Pistons and Red Wings game this April also perks me up a little bit (more on that in a few weeks), but when I realize that the Pro Bowl is tonight, well, that just makes matters worse.

This is why, for the good of the Mets, and maybe my sanity, this chunk of the Mets being for sale is coming just at the right time. If it can't be me, maybe it can be someone else who actually knows how to run a baseball team.

But remember, I'm not giving up on my bid for a piece of the pie. Someone out there will want to take a bite, too. Who's with me?

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