Fred Wilpon, Mets owner, real estate developer, and victim of Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme, has been named as head of the finance committee for major league baseball. Rob Manfred, baseball commissioner, discussed Wilpon’s role and his reluctance to spend on his own team in an interview with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Rosenthal broached the “sensitive” issue of the fact that Wilpon, as owner of the Mets, spends less on his team than owners of some lower revenue teams. He asked Manfred, “How do you justify to their fans the Mets’ inability or reluctance to spend more on players?”
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Manfred responded that instead of “spending to win” by acquiring high-priced stars, the Mets wants to grow organically by developing the players they already have and fostering the support that makes a team a cohesive unit. Manfred said, “I think they have developed a strategy with respect to the Mets that they’re going to try go grow from within so that they have a team that can be competitive and sustainable.” When the time comes “to invest additional dollars in payroll, they are going to be willing and able to do that.”
In the aftermath of the Bernie Madoff scandal, the Mets’ payroll fell from $149 million to $84 million as of 2014. The amount has lifted slightly at the beginning of 2015 to the tune of $97 million, but the trade of Dillon Gee might bring it down to $92 million, according to RisingApple.
Wilpon, who grew up in a Jewish family in Bensonhurst Brooklyn, wasn’t a fool to trust Madoff; a lot of other smart people did, and that was the reason he was able to get away with his crime as long as he did. A letter to the editor at newsPress.com by Roger McHose of Cape Coral expresses the notion that anyone could have been taken in by Madoff, and the fact that Fred Wilpon was one of Madoff’s victims does not indicate any lack of savvy required to fulfill his role as finance committee chairman for major league baseball. McHose wrote, “Ponzi schemes floated around New Jersey 40 years ago, and I was asked to get involved at last three times back then, and I refused and got called stupid for turning back all the money I could make at least one time. Wilpon, the owner of my favorite team, is a great business man, so I must be a hockey puck. Many people say Americans are stupid, and sometimes I just wonder why.”