The Wilpons Need to be Stopped

The Wilpons are commonly compared to the McCourts. For the uninitiated, the McCourts used to own the Dodgers until MLB seized the team and forced the sale of the team. 

With the McCourts, the apparent tipping point was Frank McCourt seeking a $300 million loan from its TV partner just to make payroll. The Dodgers payroll dropped, and the large market team only had the 12th best payroll. Furthermore, the McCourts were accused of using Dodgers revenues to support their lifestyle. It all came unravelling during the McCourts’ divorce when much of this became public.  MLB seized the opportunity to force the sale of the Dodgers. 

I’m not sure the Wilpons’ financial misdeeds quite reach the level of the McCourts. However, they did take out $980 million in loans to stay afloat; $430 million of that was borrowed against the Mets. Since that time, as per Howard Megdal, the Wilpons have used the Mets profits to finance this debt. This debt was not taken out to benefit the Mets. Rather, the debt has had a negative impact on the Mets as the debt agreements, prior to refinancing, prevented the Mets from increasing payroll

Where the Wilpons conduct falls short of the McCourts is the the daily operations. At no point has it been alleged the Mets couldn’t make payroll. While the Wilpons have been using the Mets as a personal ATM like the McCourts, they have not done so to the point that they can’t make payroll. The prior commissioner and Wilpons’ good friend, Bud Selig, never said a word about this. The closest current commissioner, Rob Manfred, only said teams should “spend commensurate with the economic resources available to them.”  He also enjoyed pointing out the mid-market Royals had a larger payroll than the big market Mets. 

None of this amounts to much. It appears so long as the Mets do not interfere with the ability to find the team’s operations, MLB will not step in and take the team over. It’ll allow the Mets to raise ticket prices while reducing payroll. It will not hold the Mets up to their own standards. 

If that was the only issue, MLB could be justified in looking the other way. However, there are greater accusations of malfeasance by the Mets organization. 

The Mets settled a lawsuit due to Jeff Wilpon’s alleged discriminatory actions. He apparently took issue with a woman being pregnant out of wedlock. He told her that she would be paid more when she gets married. She was eventually told she was going to be fired, but she could stay on for the rest of the year if she dropped her discrimination claims. She refused and had her attorney advise the Wilpons she was pursuing the claims. She was fired three minutes later. 

Of course, the Mets claim she was fired for failing to meet ticket quotas. It should be noted that this was at the time the Mets initially purged payroll putting a constantly diminishing payroll each year. It should also be noted, the female employee was the first ever female senior vice president. She was replaced by a man

If that wasn’t enough, the Mets also declined to renew the contract of an injured pitching coach. During the season, Tom Signore was struck with a ball causing blindness in one eye at post-concussion symptoms. He was regarded well enough to fill-in for Frank Viola in AAA. Now that he had some medical issues, he’s pushed out the door. 

If you’re still not convinced of the Wilpons’ malfeasance, consider their censorship:

So between the using the Mets as an ATM, firing a single mom on trumped up charges, and getting rid of a person hurt on the job, when does MLB step in and take over the team?  How long can this embarrassment continue?  Are we allowed to talk about it?  I mean they don’t allow such conversations on their network. 
Mets fans have a right to be angry with the team’s spending. MLB should be embarrassed by the actions of one of its owners. Firing single mothers and effectively firing a person blind in one eye is not okay. 

Sooner or later MLB has to step in and out a stop to all of this.