Saturday, February 5, 2011

Picard Lawsuit Seeks $1 billion Claiming Wilpons Ignored Warnings

As if this situation wasn't ridiculous enough, it gets even worse for the Mets owners being sued by Trustee, Irving Picard.

According to Adam Rubin, Picard's lawsuit, which led many to believe he was seeking $300 million, is actually seeking the $1 billion reported prior to the lawsuit being unsealed Friday.

In a statement, one of Picard's attorney's said:

“What the trustee is looking for here is a payment in cash...So whether they utilize the Mets, SNY, Sterling properties or any other resource is of no moment to us. What we’re looking for is a billion dollars, and unless we settle for less than that, which we’re not inclined to do, where they get the money is of no moment to us.”

As Rubin points out, the astronomical amount of money sought by Picard could just be a scare tactic to force the Wilpons to settle for less, perhaps for around $300 million, which is what Picard claims Sterling Partners, families, trustees, and entities withdrew from the Madoff accounts. 

Picard is seeking the extra millions because he claims the Wilpons either knew, or should have known about the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, and continued to invest with the man while ignoring a number of warnings.

If the Wilpons decide to gamble and take this to trial, they could end up losing more than just $1 billion. It could mean the loss of the team as well.

Based on previous statements which came from the Mets, it does not sound like they are willing to settle. They genuinely seem as though they are being targeted, and they plan on fighting.

I've stated in the past that the Wilpons need to go. It's not a secret, I'm not a fan of them. If what they say is true, however, and they were not aware of the scheme, this lawsuit by Picard needs to end.

That being said, after reading the complaint again, it seems as though the Wilpons may have received and ignored warnings.

According to the complaint, following Madoff's arrest on December 11, 2008, a number of e-mails were sent which indicated the Chief Investment Officer for Sterling Stamos, Ashok Chachra, had been suspicious of Madoff for years. A Sterling Stamos sent the following in an e-mail:

"[A] lot of our investors gave us crap about not generating returns like Madoff's [...] and I guess our CIO always said it was a scam, 'too good to be true[.]'"

On December 13, 2008, the Sterling Stamos CIO sent an e-mail which also appears to confirm that the Wilpons knew something was up.

"In fact, we turned down the Madoff Funds more than [sic] 6 years ago and told many of our investors including the Wilpon and Katz families about our concerns. Notwithstanding our concerns, the Wilpon and Katz families continued to invest with Madoff Securities."

I Hear There's Some Baseball Happening Soon

All of this Mets/Madoff talk is giving me a headache. Let's take a moment to remember what we SHOULD be talking about.

That's right. Baseball. 10 more days...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Contents of Mets/Madoff Complaint Released

So on my lunch break, I decided to check out the 373 page court document, stating the details of the lawsuit brought against the Mets by Irving Picard. Why? Because what else would I do on my lunch break?

As I skimmed through the document, I have to be honest, I don't really know any more about this case than I did beforehand. The only new piece of information is that Picard is seeking $300 million. That's a heck of a lot better than the reported $1 billion.

I'm not even going to try and dissect this thing. I'll leave that to the experts. One thing I do know for sure, this is not going away any time soon.

As for whether the Wilpons would settle or go to trial, Adam Rubin tweeted this:

In a statement, Mets owners wrote:

"The Trustee's lawsuit is an outrageous "strong arm" effort to try to force a settlement by threatening to ruin our reputations and businesses which we have built for over 50 years. This is a flagrant abuse of the Trustee's authority and we will not succumb to his pressure. The conclusions in the complaint are not supported by the facts. While they may make for good headlines, they are abusive, unfair and untrue. We categorically reject them. We should not be made victims twice over - the first time by Madoff, and again by the Trustee's actions...Again, we have done nothing wrong. We played by the rules. We abided by the court order not to discuss the lawsuit. Others did not. We are confident we will win in court."

Based on that statement, it doesn't sound like the Wilpons are going to go down without a fight.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

WSJ Explains Mets/Madoff Debacle

Here is a brief video explaining what's happening with the Mets and their current situation. Video courtesy of Metsblog.

As I said in an earlier post, this situation is only going to get worse before it gets any better.

The New York Times reported today that the lawsuit by Irving Picard is not the only lawsuit filed against the Mets in regard to Madoff.

According to the article, Elyse S. Goldweber, a former employee at Sterling Equities Associates, filed a federal lawsuit which claims, "Wilpon and two other officers breached their fiduciary duties by offering employees the chance to invest their 401(k) plan with Madoff."

This is just getting ugly. After reading the article in the Times, I have to say, it sounds as though there were plenty of red flags when it came to Madoff, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

Tomorrow should be interesting with the unsealing of the trustee's complaint.

Stay tuned.

Mets Finally Asking For Input From Fans

The Mets are finally asking fans what they want. What they want to eat, that is.

Check out these two meals the Acela Club is offering:
  • Fillet with blue cheese butter and crispy shallots, and;
  • Lemon Braised Artichokes with veal stuffing, arugula and lemon confit.
What is this? What happened to a hot dog and a beer? This is not baseball food.

I don't know about you, but when I pay to go to a game, I want a hot dog, a beer, and my seat out there in the stands. It's all part of the ambiance. If I wanted to eat a fancy meal and watch everything on TV, I'd just stay home.

Suit Against Mets Could Go Public Friday

According to Adam Rubin, Mets ownership has withdrawn an objection to unseal the lawsuit brought against them by Irving Picard, the trustee representing the victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. The contents of the lawsuit could be made public as soon as tomorrow.

The Mets reportedly profited nearly $48 million from an investment with Madoff.

The Mets had sent a letter to Judge Burton Lifland of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of Manhattan, asking that the contents of the lawsuit be sealed.

This comes after reports surfaced that the settlement negotiations between the two parties had stalled.

A court hearing is scheduled for February 9.

I have a feeling this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wilpons Need to Go, and They Need to Go Now

Over the past few days, the news of the financial relationship between Bernie Madoff and the Wilpons has started to come out. The more I read about it, the more I believe the Wilpons are full of crap.

They've lied about about their money woes, and they've lied about how deeply involved Madoff was with the club's finances.

Since the Ponzi scheme was discovered in 2008, the Wilpons have offered little information as to what their relationship was with Madoff.

To me, it's simple. If you weren't close, you just say so. Make a clear statement. When you only share bits and pieces of information, and then sources begin to speak of  how deeply Madoff was involved with the team, well it's going to come back to bite you.

That's exactly what is happening to the Wilpons. Former employees are speaking out and saying that Madoff was a part of the team's business plan.

According to the New York Times:

"When the Mets negotiated their larger contracts with star players — complex deals with signing bonuses and performance incentives — they sometimes adopted the strategy of placing deferred money owed the players with Mr. Madoff’s investment firm. They would have to pay the player, but the owners of the club would be able to make money for themselves in the meantime... And when the costs of disability insurance spiked, the former employee recalled, the Mets began to self insure. They did it by investing premiums with Mr. Madoff."

People have been saying that the Wilpons were aware of the scheme by Madoff. Whether this is true, I have no idea. I would like to think it's false. I would hope, from a moral standpoint, the owners of the Mets would not be so stupid as to knowingly work with such a criminal.

If the relationship between the Wilpons and Madoff is as Irving Picard describes in his lawsuit against the Mets, I would like to think, from a financial standpoint, the Wilpons are not that dumb when it comes to business.

I am no financial expert, but when some one like Madoff has an 18 percent return on investments, and there is no explanation as to how he is making that happen, some kind of alarm should go off, especially  for someone with as much business experience as Fred Wilpon.

Whatever their relationship, whatever their involvement, the Wilpons time as owners of the Mets is almost up.

If you think this will not have an effect on the players, think again. Besides being hounded by the media (which you know will happen) and asked about the situation, they must also go through yet another season of instability.

The Mets finally went out and got a GM and manager that fans are excited about, and gave fans something to look forward to this season. Now this has to happen.

It's time for the Wilpons to cut the crap, and get out. Let the team, media, and fans get back to concentrating on what should be the main

Alderson's Got Jokes

Mets GM Sandy Alderson was on hand to answer questions at the annual Mets Hot Stove Report, hosted by Ed Randall's Fans for a Cure, in NYC.

Some Alderson quotes from the evening:

"What we need in the future, lots of Jose Reyes if we want to be a good team." 
Well, Sandy, you do already have one Jose Reyes. You may want to keep him around as you start your Reyes collection.

Alderson's example for how the Phillies can crash: "Look at the Mets in recent years."
Ouch, Sandy. That hurt a little.

Alderson's thoughts on the wild card: "In my current situation I'm in favor of it."
This one supposedly got a laugh from the crowd. What are you trying to say Sandy? The only way the Mets are making the the postseason is with the Wild Card? Geesh...Where's the faith?

Alderson's quotes provided by the Bergen Record's Steve Popper.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Top 10 Mets Moments of all Time

It's a slow news day, and I'm sick of talking about the Wilpons and that mess. Therefore, I present to you, my list of the top 10 most memorable Mets moments of all 1986. I chose to only include moments that have occurred since I was born. Unfortunately, the early 90's were a particularly ugly time, so many of the moments revolve around 1999 and the early 2000's.

10. 1997 Subway Series
The Mets took the first game of the three game set against the Yankees, and had bragging rights, at least for that day. Was an interesting concept at the time. Now I'm over it, and all of interleague play, for that matter.

9. 1999 NLDS, Game 4
Back-up catcher Todd Pratt came to bat in the 10th inning of tied ball game against the Diamondbacks. Nobody expected too much from him because, well, it was Todd Pratt. He went on to hit a home run over the center field wall, winning the series, and sending the Mets on to face the Braves in the NLCS. 

8. 2000 National League Pennant  
The Mets beat the Cardinals to go on to play in a world series that I would actually be able to see and remember. What made it even was against the Yankees. I don't want to talk about what happened next.

7. 1999 Wild Card Playoff Game
Al Leiter pitched what was probably his best game as a Met on this day. Against the Cincinnati Reds, Leiter threw a complete game shut out to send the Mets to the playoffs for the first time since 1988.

6. Mike Piazza's Home Run on 9/21/01
While this would have been just like any other game played between the Mets and Braves, it wasn't. It was the first game played since 9/11. Down 2-1 in the 8th, Piazza hit a two-run homer, giving the Mets the lead, and the city of New York something to cheer about.

5. 2006 Division Champs
The Mets finally de-throned the Braves from atop the NL East. That's all I have to say. 

4. The Endy Chavez Catch
In game 7 of the NLCS, Chavez made one of the greatest catches I had ever seen, and cemented his spot in Mets highlight history. In the 6th inning Cardinals hitter Scott Rolen hit a high drive to left field. I remember thinking that the ball was gone. Next thing you know, Chavez's arm goes over the left field fence, and he lands with the ball in his glove.

3. Grand Slam Single
I will never forget this hit. Thank you, Robin Ventura. With two on in the bottom of the 15th, Ventura smacked a pitch by Kevin McGlinchy over the right-center field wall. He was mobbed by his teammates after rounding first base and prevented from completing his home run trot.
2. 1986 World Series, Game 6
Two words: Mookie Wilson. Despite hitting the ball just over 90 feet, Wilson possibly had one of the most memorable hits in Mets history, with a little help from Bill Buckner.  

1. 1986 World Series Win
What else were you expecting? Do I really need to explain this one? They won it all.

Accusations of Leaks and Character Assassinations

The Daily News is reporting that according to court documents, the Wilpon's filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Monday, asking that Irving Picard's lawsuit against them to be kept under wrap. The Mets are claiming they have been the victims of "significant leaks," and "attempted character assassination."

The most interesting quote in this story was from the owners' attorney, in which he wrote, "The public's interest in the contents of the suit are closer to 'mere curiosity' than 'legitimate public concern.'"

To the overall general public, yes, they may just be curious. To Mets fans, no, it's not just curiosity. There IS concern about what is going to happen with this team, financially, as well as the effect (if any) it may have on the players on the field.

Nothing hurts a team more than instability.

Just when the Mets were making some pretty low key, yet important signings this offseason, and I was starting to get a good vibe about the 2011 team, this happens.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pagan Signs, Avoids Arbitration

Angel Pagan and the Mets avoided arbiration today, with Pagan signing a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

In a statement released through the Mets, Pagan stated, "For the first time in my career, I have a spot on the team, but I'm not taking anything for granted. I can't wait for Spring Training to start. I think we'll be better than people are predicting."

If there was one player I wanted the team to sign it was Pagan. The 2010 season was a break out season for him. He hit .290 in 2010, with 11 home runs and 37 stolen bases.

I think the most important aspect to his successful season was that he was able to stay healthy.

Pagan did a great job filling in for Carlos Beltran in center field, but with Beltran back, it's expected that he will move over to right field. 

On a side note...Pagan will be chatting with fans tomorrow at noon on

Why People Won't Buy What the Wilpon's are Selling

According to Darren Rovell, CNBC's sports business reporter, nobody is going to bother paying $200 million for a minority piece of the team. This makes sense. That's an awful lot of money to pay just to sit in the background and have no major say in the team's operations.

Rovell thinks the Wilpon's have two options:

1. Sell the 20-25 percent and throw in a part of SNY as well, or;
2. Sell now with a promise to sell the rest of the team at a later date.

As much as many Mets fans would like to see the Wilpon's sell everything and never come back, I don't see this as a possibility. I don't see the Wilpon's leaving without a fight.

I am no financial expert, however, so I really have no idea how this will play out. Only time will tell.

To read Rovell's full story, click here.

Selig Meeting with Mets

According to ESPN, and Newsday's Jim Baumbach, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is on his way to New York today, and will meet with the Wilpon's either late today, or tomorrow.

There is no word as to what this meeting is about. So before you go crazy assuming it's about their finances, or selling the team, relax.

It could be that, or it could be about the All-Star game coming to Citi Field in 2013.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reality Check: Cuban Ain't Buyin'

Just when I get past the fans' and the medias' delusional idea of Albert Pujols playing for the Mets, they come up with another asinine idea: Mark Cuban, part owner of the Mets.

Be real, people.

As soon as the news broke the other day of the Wilpon's possibly selling a minority stake in the team (20-25 percent), the Internet went crazy with talk of Cuban snatching it up.

My question is why?

I've got nothing against Cuban, but he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who buys 20-25 percent of a team and then takes a back seat, not participating in day-to-day operations.

Plus while some fans call him passionate, I think he may also be just a touch crazy.

After hearing about all the shenanigans he's pulled in Dallas, I can just see Cuban running out onto the field, ripping a base out of the ground, and tossing it at an umpire because he disagrees with a call.

As entertaining as that would be to see, the Mets don't need that kind of crazy. After all, they already have Wally Backman in the system.

Finally, when was the last time Cuban's team has won a championship?

That's right, never.