That is the only conceivable explanation for the things Fred Wilpon said to Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker profile that appeared online this morning.
You don’t say to any reporter, let alone to one as respected as Toobin, that Reyes has all sorts of things wrong with him, that Wright is a really good kid, a very good player, but not a superstar, and that it was a mistake to sign Beltran. You don’t say that the team you own is shitty. These are the things you say when you reach the end of the line, when you expect nothing from the future, when you no longer care about what you’ve always cared about, and when you no longer care about the people to whom you owe what you have.
These are words for the last act of a tragedy. They have no place in a world that will continue.
By lowering the value of Reyes, Wright, Beltran, and the team of which he is trying to sell 49%, Wilpon has betrayed everyone in sight: the players, his wonderful new administration, and the fans, some of whom have now lived and died with this team for half a century. We all deserve an apology. But we deserve more than that. We deserve an exit that doesn’t make anything worse than it already is.
Wilpon would have gained so much if he could have ended this all with class. I have to admit that for nearly all of the time he owned the team I liked him and admired him. I liked his story. I liked the fact that he grew up in pretty much the same place and pretty much the same conditions as my parents. I liked his enthusiasm and the dignity and competence he showed for many years, owning the Mets so much more quietly than Steinbrenner owned the Yankees. I didn’t like some of his notable moments of cluelessness, like his apparent erasure of the Mets from the original Citi Field. But I figured that it was part of the natural narcissism of a billionaire. It was just a matter of self-involved stadium design. I guess when you own something, you might start thinking that you are the only one who counts. I hate that, of course, because I prefer to think that people who own ball teams are just taking care of them for the rest of us. But I can see why they might not view it in that way. For me, the freakiest section of Toobin’s article was learning that when Wilpon first met with the architects hired to design the new stadium, they were, according to Wilpon, just saying “blah blah blah” and he had to lean forward and tell them that “this is how this is going to work.” When you start acting in this way, you have become King Lear and you deserve what happens to you. That’s probably the moment you should retire, or at least stop thinking about your dynasty.
Well, he stayed too long. And I feel for him. He made a common mistake and as he knows, it was not the only mistake he made in his life. Nor was it the worst. I am heartbroken by what I have read in the New Yorker. But I am not heartbroken for Fred Wilpon. I am heartbroken for the Mets and for their fans. We deserved more than this final clueless arrogance.
Watching a game with Wilpon, Toobin describes how the Astros put three runs up on the board in the second inning, and Wilpon says to him “We’re snakebitten, baby,” as if the disasters of the past four and a half years had something to do with snakes or stars.
They didn’t, but it turns out that we are snakebitten. We’ve been bitten by a snake.