When Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta, and J.P. Ricciardi joined the Mets approximately one year ago, rational Mets fans understood that much work needed to be done to make the team a perennial contender. The new administration was handed a team in disarray. There were plenty of awful contracts on the books, the farm system was devoid of impact players, and the owners had been involved in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.
It's hard to imagine that the story about the Wilpons' involvement in the whole Madoff fiasco would have gone away, but it took a turn for the worse when the news broke the Irving Picard, the trustee for the victims of the Madoff scheme, was seeking one billion dollars from the Wilpons. Back at the beginning of February, our very own James Kannengieser put together a timeline of events regarding the whole mess, which he summed up nicely with this graphic.
The owners were seemingly in pretty big trouble, publicly announcing their intent to sell approximately one-fourth of the team to stay afloat. There had already been concerns about the team's payroll, and when the news got worse, Mets fans were treated to months of speculation about the supposedly inevitable trade of Jose Reyes. When the Reyes talk died down a bit, the speculation was that David Wright would have to go to make room for Reyes. It made tuning into a nationally televised Mets game even more excruciating than it usually is.
The Wilpons, meanwhile, insisted that they were innocent, even if they weren't convincing the press. And then Fred Wilpon went and said some things that turned even the most patient Mets fans against the owners.
Not long after that, it was announced that the Mets had selected a minority owner in David Einhorn, a hedge fund manager who would take a non-controlling stake of the team, pending the completion of negotiations. Einhorn showed up at a few games and spoke to the media about his hopes to join the Wilpons, but there wasn't much in the way of news about the owners over the next couple of months until the deal with Einhorn fell through.
The day before the end of the season, the news broke that a judge had dismissed all but two of the counts against the Wilpons, which substantially reduced the amount of money they stood to potentially lose, at least for now.
When a team's owners are such a big story, something is probably wrong. All in all, the Wilpons ended the season with the best news they've had in a while, but there are no guarantees about their lawsuit just yet. Until their legal matters are officialy resolved, it's hard to guess with any certainty just how much the team on the field will be affected by its owners.
Previously on Top Six Stories: