As Commissioner Bud Selig makes his farewell tour (good riddance) around the league, he paid visit to his friends the Wilpons in Queens. Selig has helped the Wilpons in their financial struggles over the past several years approving loans, not forcing a sale of a team in economic despair, and backing Fred, Jeff, and Saul Katz in their control of the club.
He joined Mets broadcast trio Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling for a couple innings on Tuesday evening. While on air, the atmosphere was light and he didn’t have to dodge any difficult questions. It was more of a conversation than a Q & A. However, Selig faced the media earlier in the day, who came in locked and loaded. He was immediately bombarded with questions about the Wilpon’s finances, differences between their struggles and that of Frank McCourt’s Dodgers, amongst other probing questions. Selig held firm in supporting the Wilpons and the way they run the team, which came as no surprise.
As the questions kept coming, Selig stayed cool. But at the end of the day, some of his comments were downright condescending. Does he really think fans are not that intelligent? For sure, some are ignorant, but many dedicated and frustrated Met fans know facts, and Selig either takes them for fools, or is too faithful to the fraudulent owners running this big league circus to care. Here’s what is disturbing: Selig claimed that the Mets are doing things “the right way” and don’t need to spend like “drunken sailors” to be competitive. While some small market clubs are able to be competitive, the Mets shouldn’t be one of those examples. This is New York for goodness sake.
Selig continued to back the three blind mice at the top of the ownership mountain. He claimed to follow the model of the St. Louis Cardinals. While the Cards are a model run organization, they have their differences from the Mets, which makes it difficult for Sandy Alderson and company to match their moves. First, the Cardinals have a payroll of over $111 million. The Mets are about $85 million. So, Mr. Selig, the Mets are just supposed to add $25 million to their payroll without any string attached? Not that easy. And based on his press conference, he apparently thinks that’s not to tall of an order. Secondly, the Cardinals get around $20 million/year from their TV deal. The Mets get about $80 million, yet the Cardinals payroll is 10 spots above the Mets (13th vs 23rd)? The Mets play in the biggest market on Earth and have the seventh lowest payroll in the league. Something’s not right here.
Look at the other big market clubs–Los Angeles (which has 2 payrolls in the top five), Philadelphia, and Boston, all are in the top 10. Some of them are competitive, others are not, but they at least have invested significant capital to try to improve their respective clubs. For as much undeserved heat as Sandy Alderson takes for not acquiring players, consider this: He was expecting to spend more than what he has thus far, and has been restrained by ownership from pursuing large(r) contracts. So, when you hear Sandy hint at the payroll remaining the relatively the same, it’s because he can’t bad-mouth his boss and tell the public he’s not being allowed to spend like he thought when he took the job 4 years ago. Alderson and his executives have become baby sitters for an ownership group that has had its share of fiscal issues (Let’s not forget the fact that ticket sales, concessions, parking, and sales of the most expensive seats have declined every year since the ballpark opened in 2009). So, if you’re going to point fingers, don’t look at management; look at ownership. Lastly, because of Selig’s long standing relationship with the Met’s owners, he has done nothing to address their financial limitations. Hey new Commissioner Rob Manfred, you’re up next. Let’s hope he has more integrity than his predecessor.