The world of the New York Mets was turned upside down when the Wilpon family was seen sitting on a street corner holding up a homemade cardboard sign reading, "Spare change wanted: we were suckered into a Ponzi scheme (and our second one at that) and even though we were one of the few who made money, we still need more money because of the impending lawsuits and whatnot, so please help us--though you can't touch our golden goose, SNY." Fred and Jeff Wilpon are open to selling a chunk of the team. But it's the bad chunk of the team they want to unload, the part that includes Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Supposedly their TV network would not be included in the deal nor would a new owner have any control, so what's in it for any prospective buyers? Having Jose Reyes create a special handshake just for them? Watching Mike Pelfrey lick his hands in person after inviting the pitcher over for dinner?
Names of potential buyers have already surfaced, including Martin Luther King III, Ed Kranepool, Donn Clendenon Jr. and even Mark Cuban. Anytime Kranepool is involved in anything with the Mets it's a good thing. He's a native New Yorker, an original Met, holds many of the club's records and won a World Series with the Amazin's. With all due respect to Mr. Met, Kranepool is the real Mr. Met. A Met employee should be walking around Citi Field with a papier-mâché costume of the old first baseman to entertain the fans alongside their present mascot. What other former Mets would make a good owner? Jerry Grote? He was a hard-ass who wouldn't put up with any guff from anybody. Rusty Staub? He would be a people's-choice type of owner. Ron Darling's a Yale graduate, so he would probably know what he was doing. Maybe the 1986 Mets should pool their money together and buy into the team. It would be one big party with those guys. Or how about this year's edition of the Mets? They've made enough money. Put R.A. Dickey in control of the whole shebang and leave it at that. And with all these famous sons entering the picture, how about Tug McGraw's son Tim? And for one last crazy idea: Hank Steinbrenner should break away from his family and purchase the Mets, so we could have dueling Steinbrenners here in New York.
Since Fred Wilpon wrested full control of the team in 2002, he's run the team into the ground. His reign has highlighted how good the Mets had it with Joan Payson and Nelson Doubleday. I'm sure he's a nice man and all, but he hires and trusts all the wrong people. After claiming they would not be selling any part of the team just a short year or so ago, the Wilpons have changed their tune, though circumstances, of course, are ever evolving in the Bernie Madoff fiasco. Would it be a surprise, though, if the Wilpons ended up selling the team outright? New information is dribbling out every day, but whatever happens, this is most likely just the beginning of the story.
And now on to the other top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
You, Us, We, Now--But Is There a Center in There Somewhere? What do we make of the New York Knicks these days? They're 6-8 in 2011, and went 1-2 for the week. They lost to the Hawks on Friday, with an explosion of fisticuffs, as Shawne Williams got into a brouhaha with Marvin Williams, beat the Pistons on Sunday, with an explosion of Timofey Mozgov, and then lost to Dallas, thanks to a Dirk Nowitzki explosion. Mozgov fell back to earth in the Dallas game, with four points and one rebound, while Ronny Turiaf put up a zero/zero. Yes, the Knicks need to find a center from somewhere, whether it's Mozgov, Bill Cartwright or whomever. Landry Fields was named to the Rookie-Sophomore game at the Staples Center, while Wilson Chandler remains out with an injury. Ever since Mikhail Prokhorov pulled his team out of the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, Chandler has been invisible one way or another. And speaking of Anthony, former Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien was hired as a top consultant. We're not sure if poor Donnie Walsh knew about that or not. Finally, the Knicks were fined $200,000 for either illegal draft workouts or for having James Dolan as their owner. The investigation continues.
Semi-Pro: The New Jersey Nets' week ended with Avery Johnson going all Lou Piniella on the refs and throwing third base across the floor before being ejected after arguing a non-foul when Devin Harris was pickpocketed, tackled and then had his identity stolen in the team's loss to the 76ers on Wednesday. The first three games of the week featured some of the Nets' old ABA history. On Friday, the Nets fell to the Pacers in an original ABA matchup. Why they didn't use a red-white-and-blue ball is anyone's guess. The following night, they lost to the Bucks, which was New Jersey's 11th consecutive road loss. Milwaukee was not in the ABA, of course, but Peter Vecsey recently wrote that when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demanded a trade from the Bucks, his fallback was signing with the Nets for the 1975-'76 season if a deal couldn't be worked out. Kareem and Julius Erving on the same team? That would have been something to see. Sure, the Nets won the ABA championship that season anyway, but think of the entertainment that would have provided. Next up on the old ABA tour were the Nuggets, with Anthony making his Newark debut. Unfortunately, he wasn't playing for the Nets. He scored 37 points, but the inspired Nets showed that they don't need him. Well, they didn't need him for that one game, as when the Nets are bad, like they were on Wednesday, they're really, really bad.
Devilicious: While the Mets are looking for minority owners, the New Jersey Devils' minority owners are looking to sell. Is there a match somewhere in there? Probably not. On the ice, the Devils are looking like the latest Jersey sensation, following in the footsteps of Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, Cake Boss and the Real Housewives of New Jersey, not to mention The Uncle Floyd Show. Of course, they didn't start winning until the season was all but lost and the pressure was off, but there's always hope. Over the weekend Patrik Elias represented his team nicely with a goal and an assist in the All-Star Game. And New Jersey picked up where they left off to start the second half of the season with a 2-1 win over the Senators on Tuesday and a 3-2 victory over the Rangers.
The Return of the Magnificent Seven (Well, Four): After the All-Star Game, in which Henrik Lundqvist stopped a penalty shot but couldn't hold off Team Lidstrom and Marc Staal got to play on the same team with his brother Eric, the New York Rangers saw the cavalry start to come back. On Tuesday Dan Girardi, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan returned, and on Thursday Vinny Prospal made his season debut, but Ruslan Fedotenko will be out for a while after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday. Callahan and Prospal both scored in their first games back. Unfortunately, the Blueshirts could only muster up one point in the two games, with turnovers, shaky goaltending, not enough offense and clanking too many posts doing them in.
Good News, Bad News: Michael Grabner won the fastest skater competition during All-Star weekend, while teammate Rick DiPietro came out victorious in the Losing a Fight the Quickest Way Possible contest, when he was knocked down with one punch by Penguin goalie Brent Johnson on Wednesday. Kyle Okposo scored his first two goals of the year in the New York Islanders' win over the Thrashers on Tuesday, but the offense went scoreless in the loss to Pittsburgh.
So Long, Andy: Yankee legend Andy Pettitte is announcing his retirement on Friday. He spent 13 seasons in the Bronx, helping them win five World Series, and three years in Houston, with one Series appearance with the Astros. He finishes with a lifetime 240-138 record and 3.88 ERA. He had a Divisional Series mark of 7-3, with a 3.65 ERA, an LCS record of 7-3 and 3.83 ERA, and in the World Series he went 5-4 and sported a 4.06 ERA. Always understated, humble and classy, he will unfortunately also be remember for using PEDs and being pals with Roger Clemens.
Hot Stove: In more prosaic news for the Mets, they signed Dickey to a two-year deal and Angel Pagan to a one-year contract. Old Met Frank Viola was named the pitching coach of the Brooklyn Cyclones (can he get a spring-training invitation?). It looks like the All-Star Game will be coming to Citi Field in 2013. If the Mets still exist, that is. And the New York Yankees took a page out of Sandy Alderson's book (who took a page out of Omar Minaya's book), as Brian Cashman is loading up on injured, older pitchers with Freddy Garcia now joining Bartolo Colon, as Pettitte's retirement leaves a gaping hole in the team's rotation. Cashman also acquired outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Nationals, who is coming off Tommy John surgery himself. How long before El Duque is signed by one of the local teams?