2:25 pm Sep. 19, 2012
Baseball's commissioner, Bud Selig, longtime friend of Mets owner Fred Wilpon, said Wednesday that he has "no concerns, whatsoever" about the New York Mets.
""I have a lot of faith in the Wilpons," Selig told Newsday's Marc Carig Wednesday. "I have a lot of faith in Sandy Alderson ... I'm very confident about the Mets. Very confident."
The Mets lost $23 million in 2012, despite cutting salary by more than $50 million over 2011. Attendance is down, and the cash infusion of $240 million from minority owners this spring, spent largely on past-due debts, is set to run out by year's end. Many more short-term and long-term debts remain. And Major League Baseball has gone on record saying they won't be the ones helping the Wilpons pay.
But it certainly fits with what Selig has been saying for years. No matter what the Mets do, or don't do, Selig assumes the posture of not being concerned.
Back in April 2011, he expressed optimism that the Mets would pay back a $25 million loan from M.L.B. by season's end. When the end of the season came, but payment didn't, he was still unconcerned.
"We are doing fine with the Mets," Selig said in October 2011 of a loan, then past due, that wasn't paid back until March 2012. "I don't have any concerns. I do have a lot of concerns but I am happy to say the Mets aren't one of them."
A month later, the Mets took out an emergency bridge loan just to pay expenses until March 2012.
Rewind a few months before that, and Selig was unconcerned about the deal between the Mets and David Einhorn, one that would have allowed Einhorn to purchase a minority stake in the team for $200 million, and the right to increase that to a majority stake if the Wilpon group couldn't pay him back.
"They have to finish the deal," Selig said in July 2011. "And, by the way, I think they're making very good progress toward that end."
Selig claimed things were so settled by August 2011, he and Wilpon didn't even discuss the Mets.
"The Mets situation is moving along very well," Selig said in a news conference. "Fred and I have had a lot of conversations here, and this was the first time in a long time we had no conversations about the Mets in any way. Which is a very good sign."
Maybe Selig should have checked in. Two weeks later, the Einhorn-Mets deal fell apart, thanks to Einhorn's discovery of an attempt by Wilpon to have Selig complicate Einhorn's path to majority ownership.
The tradition really goes back to the very start of ownership's post-Madoff difficulties. Back in February 2009, M.L.B. expressed optimism about the Mets, then sporting the second-highest payroll in baseball. Selig had reportedly spoken with Fred and Jeff Wilpon regarding any fallout from the collapse of Bernie Madoff.
“Nothing we’ve been told tells us there will be any impact on the franchise,” said Bob DuPuy, then president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball. "Their signings in the off-season and their moving forward, as they were going to, with the new ballpark is further evidence that their situation is good."