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Bud Selig's pain tolerance and the Wilpons
So the Mets took out another loan recently - good job by The New York Times - and their money problems are reaching a level of absurdity, are they not?
The Mets, in confirming the loan, said in their statement that “The process for the sale of minority shares in the team continues to go very well." As if that's going to assuage anyone at this point.
What's saving the Wilpons and Saul Katz from being escorted to the door of Major League Baseball's exclusive country club is that the lead bodyguard, Bud Selig feels a deep sense of loyalty to Fred Wilpon.
But at some point it has to end, right? At some point, Selig has to meet with Wilpon, his longtime friend, and say, "Dude. Enough already. Time to sell the team. You're embarrassing us."
Maybe. But we're not there yet, and as we continue to gague the future of the Mets' ownership, we need to appreciate Selig's significant pain tolerance.
If he lacks the patience of Job, then he might get the silver medal. Selig will wait, and wait, and wait, and wait some more, to get his desired resolution. He doesn't always reach where he wants to go. But by golly, he'll wait.
Consider the Montreal Expos, whom Major League Baseball purchased shortly before the 2002 season with the intention of moving them to a new market. The Expos endured three more miserable seasons in Montreal. MLB scheduled a significant percentage of home games in Puerto Rico in 2003 and 2004, creating a grueling travel schedule. And in September 2003, when general manager Omar Minaya and manager Frank Robinson somehow had the team in contention, MLB declined to call up a single player for September. Brutal.
But Selig hung in there, moved the club to Washington for the 2005 season and found a seller in the Lerner family the next year. And now, after many more tough times, Washington is largely regarded as a franchise on the rise.
Consider the Oakland Athletics. On March 2009, Selig announced the formation of a committee to explore the A's stadium situation, "The A's," he said that day, "cannot and will not continue indefinitely in their current situation."
That was three sesaons ago. That must be one busy committee.
This past October, A's GM Billy Beane spoke optimistically of a resolution, so maybe we'll actually get one soon, although there's no indication that the Giants are willing to give up their territorial right to San Jose. But Selig wants the A's to get a new ballpark in the Bay Area - there's really no place else to move - so he'll keep enduring the questions about the committee and the A's future.
In any case, the toll already has been high: The A's have grown increasingly irrelevant while playing at the Coliseum, and they've found it extremely difficult to recruit quality free agents, despite a willingness to spend the necessary money.
And now we have the Mets. Selig has hung in there, even though the Mets owe MLB $25 million on a loan and have embarrassed the sport with their financial mess, because he has his desired resolution in mind. He wants Fred Wilpon to survive this crisis.
(Unlike the Dodgers and Frank McCourt, of course, to whom Selig felt very little loyalty and therefore pushed him out the door.)
It appears the Mets have received some nibbles on their current plan to sell minority shares to about 10 people. Maybe they actually can pull this off - although, if it were that easy, this would've been their Plan A, rather than Plan B after the David Einhorn agreement fell apart. The Irving Picard lawsuit for $386 million gets heard, in front of a jury, on March 19 - unless the two sides can settle prior to then.
At this point, I don't see how you can have strong faith that the Wilpons and Katz can withstand this storm.
But Selig has strong motivation to root for such a resolution. And he definitely has a strong pain tolerance.
--Here's my story on CC Sabathia, who spoke last night about his former teammate Ryan Braun, his physical condition and the Yankees' starting rotation.
--Check back later for a contest.