Greetings from Cooperstown, where I haven't been since...less than a month ago. It's a little quieter now, compared to induction weekend. For one thing, there isn't a security guard stationed at the entrance to the Otesaga.
Maybe there should be, though. When you think about it, there's got to be more collective wealth, easily, in 30 team owners than there were in 50 Hall of Fame players.
Anywho, I spent the day focusing on Fred Wilpon, both speaking to him and to others about him and the Mets, and the court decision from yesterday that seems to assure, barring a successful appeal, that the Wilpons and Saul Katz will owe Madoff trustee Irving Picard $300 million in "fictitious profits."
Wilpon politely declined comment on anything and everything connected to this. "No questions, no answers," he told me and Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal. "I’m sorry, guys. I know it’s your job."
One person in the loop told me that this loss was "expected," that the real battle - sensibly - will come over the other $700 million that Picard wants as payment for Picard's belief that the Wilpons and Katz should have known of Madoff's crime. Nevertheless, as another person here put it, "It's still a huge disappointment for them. You hope you can find a way to beat the whole thing."
If you read Wilpon's interview with Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci that was published in May, you'll see that Wilpon indicates he doesn't think the lawsuit will cause him to lose the team because no one thinks the $700 million payment is realistic. That could be interpreted, in conjunction with my first source, as a concession that the first $300 million probably couldn't be recovered.
In any case, while the $300 million loss raises questions about the Wilpons' and Katz's viability moving forward, there's every belief that it won't impact the owners' negotiations to sell about 33 percent of the team to David Einhorn. To the contrary, the arrangement should be finalized very soon. Possibly tomorrow, even, although - to be clear - quite possibly not tomorrow. But soon.
--Steve Greenberg, the broker (and son of Hank Greenberg) who hooked up the Wilpons and Katz with Einhorn, looked very busy here today, hustling from meeting to meeting. But his concern wasn't the Mets. Rather, Greenberg was dealing with the Astros, whose sale to Jim Crane has been delayed to the point where it won't be approved at these meetings.
Greenberg didn't look happy, and when the handful (literally - there are five of us) of reporters here asked current Astros owner Drayton McLane what was going on, he smiled and said, "Ask Bud."
Bud Selig wasn't talking, though. As is customary, he reserves all comment until the end of the meetings, which will be tomorrow.
--Speaking of the Astros, and tangentially related to the above issue, one person in the loop expects them to transfer to the AL West by next season. More dramatic realignment has been discussed, but the Astros shift is most likely, and probably the only move.
--Joe Torre is here. This is part of his gig. It's wacky that the MLB vice president of baseball operations is recognized by more people in the lobby than is anyone else, but that's what happens when the former championship Yankees manager takes an office job.
And new baseball historian John Thorn will formally introduce himself to the owners tomorrow morning.
--Finally, we'll discuss this more a few days from now, but what the heck: A person here proactively mentioned something I've heard from other baseball people recently: "Why in the world didn't the Mets trade Jose Reyes?" In retrospect, it does seem increasingly silly.
--Have a good night. My apologies, but I'm stil struggling to call up comments on these entries.