Hard not to delight in Mets' and Wilpon's troubles

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon has plenty of problems, but not enough to stop him from bad-mouthing some of his star players in a New Yorker interview.
New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon has plenty of problems, but not enough to stop him from bad-mouthing some of his star players in a New Yorker interview. (JEFF ROBERSON / Associated Press)
Posted: May 26, 2011

Sex sells, but so does schadenfreude. The public's appetite for bad news concerning the rich and famous is nearly impossible to sate. The more embarrassing the tale, the more it tends to interest people. According to the New York Times, TMZ, Radar, and other scandal peddlers pull in more than $3 billion annually.

It took me a while to digest that figure at first, partly because I've never been an Access Hollywood type of guy. I don't care which Dancing With the Stars entrant is two-stepping outside his marriage, and I don't spend much time thinking about former bodybuilders/politi-

cians who father children out of wedlock. The people following that stuff always seemed so sad and desperate to me - until I recently realized that I'm one of them. I'm just as sad and desperate as they are, and maybe worse.

Hi, I'm John, and I have a problem. I'm addicted to the Mets' misfortunes.

I want to quit the Mets - or, rather, I want to quit delighting in the club's many public mistakes. I planned on it, resolved after the last Mets column to leave them alone and laugh at the next inevitable misstep in private. I'm weak, though, and it's a hard habit to kick - especially when the Mets freely feed my craving. They make it too easy. They might as well send me compromising photos of Mr. Met via overnight mail.

The Phils will travel to Queens on Friday to open a three-game series with the Mets. That's impressive and sort of shocking, because at this point you wouldn't expect the Mets to band together for anything, let alone a baseball game. The club, from the players to the front office, reminds me of Italy during Pope Alexander's run - a loose collection of warring, bickering states with individual agendas and no real or lasting connection to one another.

This latest internal tiff came courtesy of owner Fred Wilpon, who gave an excellent interview to the New Yorker - excellent in its scathing, brutal, jaw-dropping candor, though it probably wasn't so well-received by the Mets or their backers. (Quick note: As a former magazine writer, I commend the piece's author for extracting such damaging quotes. The New Yorker must have developed a whiskey/sodium pentothal/Jedi Mind Trick cocktail.)

About Jose Reyes, Wilpon said: "He thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money [seven years, $142 million]. He's had everything wrong with him. He won't get it."

About Carlos Beltran, Wilpon said: "We had some [jerk] in New York who paid him based on that one series. He's 65 to 70 percent of what he was."

About the team in general, Wilpon added: "[expletive] team . . . We're snakebitten, baby."

Which is true, but rather than attempt to suck out the poison, Wilpon appears content to let the Mets die an agonizing and public death. He later apologized to the team for his insensitive and scathing comments - via speaker phone. That's a bit like trying to perform CPR from across the room after the bodies have gone cold. Maybe we had him all wrong. Seems like the sort of man Phillies fans might dig.

Even for a team that has suffered one head-shaking indignity after another - from closer Francisco Rodriguez's ugly fight with his girlfriend's father to the Mets' financial troubles and the fact that Wilpon is being sued for more than $1 billion for his alleged connection to Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme - the New Yorker gaffe was a major meltdown. The Mets should think about swapping their uniforms out for Hazmat suits just to be safe.

That's sort of the problem. These fires keep sparking in Queens and, try as I might, I can't help but be mesmerized by the flames. The hotter and more intense they burn, the more interested I become. And I'm not alone. When news about Wilpon's remarks broke, all sorts of national media talking heads jabbered about it while an impromptu anti-Mets party was thrown on Twitter. Lots of Fightin's fans stopped by. The only things missing were some electronic noise makers and some virtual cake.

Maybe I should stop rejoicing each time the Mets open their mouths and insert their cleats, but I can't help myself. I'm hooked on the Mets' misfortunes. Wilpon's disastrous remarks not only damaged his reputation, they reminded me that watching the not-so-Amazin's self-destruct is always entertaining. Wilpon's New Yorker interview was the baseball version of when Britney Spears shaved her head. It was Charlie Sheen when he lost it and started ranting about winning and trolls and tiger blood. It was Lindsay Lohan on alternate Tuesdays. It was fascinating, and I can't wait until the team's next drama-dripping saga.

The Mets should start a newsletter or a gossip site. I'd pay good money for the subscription.


Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813, gonzalez@phillynews.com or @gonzophilly on Twitter.

Read his past columns at www.philly.com/philly/columnists/

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