Mr. Met did his best Wednesday to steal the show at City Hall, where it finally was announced that Citi Field will host the 2013 All-Star Game. But the moment, in many ways, belonged to Fred Wilpon, the team's principal owner.
After the baseball-headed mascot mugged for the cameras, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped in to say, "Thanks for bringing your boss along."
Only two weeks removed from hip-replacement surgery, Wilpon used an aluminum cane to navigate City Hall's cramped corridors, but said it was only to guard against getting knocked over. Otherwise, Wilpon was fine, and denied that he needed Wednesday's announcement to validate his troubled ownership group.
"I know Major League Baseball believes in the Wilpons and the Mets," he said. "This is my 33rd season, and I have great friendships throughout baseball, and you don't get those friendships because of your name -- you get those friendships because you earn them for what you do for baseball."
MLB had pledged the 2013 All-Star Game to Citi Field before the ballpark first opened in 2009, but needed time to hammer out the details with city agencies. The game itself is scheduled for Tuesday, July 16, but the other All-Star events -- including the Home Run Derby and Fan Fest -- stretch out over five days.
Bloomberg said New York City could expect an economic windfall of roughly $191.5 million from the event, the second time it has hosted the All-Star Game in five years. As far as the Mets, they receive only ancillary financial benefits as the host -- the direct revenue, from concessions to parking, goes to MLB.
The greatest monetary boost for the Mets is likely to come from an uptick in season-ticket sales for 2013, with those buyers then having the inside track to All-Star Game tickets. "They'll have priority," said Dave Howard, the team's executive vice president of business operations.
Wednesday's announcement, along with the Mets' surprising start, has changed the topics of conversation. Two months ago, the Wilpon family faced a $386-million lawsuit brought on by Madoff trustee Irving Picard. That cast doubt on the Wilpons' ability to maintain ownership of the Mets.
But after agreeing on a $162-million settlement, which may be considerably lower once Picard has finished his clawback duties, the Mets have experienced a reversal of fortune. Wednesday also marked the first time Wilpon had shared a podium with commissioner Bud Selig since the Madoff situation was resolved.
"It feels great," Wilpon said. "I told Bud in the car, now that this case is over -- it was very painful, it's in the rearview mirror now -- I can take any challenge. So that's where I'm at. I'm smiling."
While some questions still linger, the concern over the Mets' finances -- at the moment anyway -- appears to be fading. When Selig was asked if the team's money woes made him think twice about giving the Mets the 2013 All-Star Game, he shook his head.
"It absolutely did not," Selig said. "I had great faith in the Wilpon family and I was very confident they would work things out. And they have, so my confidence was rewarded. I had no trepidation at all."