Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Very Rich Are Not Like You And Me: They Walk When They Steal

So huzzah, Mets Fan! Your team's owners / destroyers of worlds, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, walked out of a Noo Yawk courtroom today not in ankle locks and Lechter masks for their role in the Bernie Madoff Pyramid Scheme, but with smiles as they skated past a civil trial, limited their exposure to further claims, and acquired the knowledge that in four years, or significantly less time than the average American who declares personal bankruptcy after a ruinous health situation in which they got no gain, they'll be clear of everything. Isn't it nice to be obscenely wealthy and serve no greater purpose than feeding your maw?

And the good news just keeps on coming for these scions of men; they also have managed to find 12 lesser parasites to pony up $20 million a piece for minority stakes, while leaving them with control of the team. With the team dropping payroll from $142 to $95 million this year (see ya, Jose, K-Rod and Carlos!), and experienced small-market genius Sandy Anderson at the reins, everything's coming up Milhouse for the NY JV. Soon, they'll be able to fulfill their historic destiny as the 75-win team that no one needs to think very much about, but this isn't about baseball.

Rather, I'd like to talk about Wilpon and Katz here. They aren't going to pay anywhere near what's owed here. Instead of the eight years that Madoff spent milking the gullible, they'll only count the two. They can only be part of the gravy train for a four year period, much of which will probably go through the leaden wheels of the same justice system that rolled over for the Metmen. And sure, they might still lose a ton of money at Citi Field for years to come, since they look like the fifth-worst team in the NL East now, and rebuilding years play about as well in the town that never stops spending as a rolling blackout or a bridge and tunnel closing, but probably not, since MLB shares revenues and there's always another sponsor or six or chump to play minority owner. (And why, oh why, is everyone so interested in buying into the Mets? Because New York could easily support 3 or 4 baseball teams, but MLB has no interest in upsetting the apple cart. Why, when you can just keep propping up Wilpon and Katz?)

And here's the really awful thing... Mets Fan is going to like the Hunger Teams much more than the Go For Break Omar Minaya era. Alderson actually knows how to build a farm system and make decent draft picks, and he's also smart enough to play cheap replacement-level young guys over older, established replacement-level guys in the low-leverage parts of the team. With Citi lowering the credit ratings of the pitchers by making the park play lower and smaller this year, they'll get more of a boost from home town hitters who are no longer sullen and withdrawn at the idea of a homestand. If one of the overpaid East teams falters, they'll even avoid the gutter, which will give everyone involved a warm and unique feeling of watching their plucksters compete against the spendthrifts. It's almost alarming how well this is all going for them, especially since in any decent courtroom, the Madoff investigation would have been buttressed by Oliver Perez's crimes against humanity, giving Tim McCarver a profession, or their fair share of the blame for letting Bobby Valentine loose on the world, but no. Alas.

Not the least of which is kind of galling because, well, it's really hard to see how the Mets *didn't* benefit - a lot -- from being near the top of Bernie's Billions. There is a benefit, however fleeting, from holding the money; it's why pyramid schemes work, at least in the short run, and continue to fleece the foolish.

Which would make them, well, accessories to fraud.

Along with, well, themselves.

Seriously, why aren't these guys -- or anyone else involved in the mortgage cratering that ruined the economy, or any number of lobbyists for same -- in jail? And is there anyone in New York that would seriously object to seeing them take the perp walk?

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule