There is really nothing wrong with an owner criticizing and critiquing his players -- it is his team after all. It's his money. But the player/s he calls out should have probably done something wrong, like loafed, refused to play (such as the Jorge Posada incident) or some other insubordinate act. But then there's Fred Wilpon. Yes, it was just a few sentences buried in a long article about his rags-to-riches story in the New Yorker, and while the sentiments he expressed concerning David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran may have a ring of truth to them, the Mets owner is the last person who should pointing fingers and disparaging anyone in his organization. The New York Mets have many things wrong with them, and Wilpon is right in the middle of all of it. This is the man, after all, who has embarrassed and shamed the franchise more than anyone since he's taken over full ownership of the team. And his timing, of course, couldn't have been worse.
After putting his players in a tough spot with the Bernie Madoff mess, one Met after another has shown nothing but support and sympathy for their owner. And what do they get for their kindness? A few low blows and petty remarks. Wright (who has played through a broken back) and Beltran (who once played with a broken face, for Pete's sake) have been nothing but class since they've arrived in the big leagues, and Reyes hasn't said a negative word about anybody. Wright's response was right in character: "Fred is a good man and is obviously going through some difficult times. There is nothing more productive that I can say at this time." It's just one more useless distraction that could have been avoided. Why make pointless, disparaging comments at all while sitting with a reporter? Sure, they were fairly harmless remarks, but doesn't Wilpon know how New York works? A mole hill is turned into a mountain with the greatest of ease. He is somewhat obsessed with the way he and his team are perceived by the media and the public, but every time he opens his mouth or embarks on a PR mission to "set the record straight," Wilpon (and the whole organization) never fails to make matters worse.
Maybe this will spur on the Mets, with a new rallying cry and incentive: Win just to spite the owner. It worked for the 1970s Oakland A's, when they loathed Charlie Finley and won three consecutive World Series just to stick it to him (of course, the 2011 Mets are nowhere near as talented as those teams were), and it was also the tactic by the great Cleveland Indians of Major League fame. Thanks for nothing, Fred, now pipe down and go back into hiding. The team just announced that David Einhorn has bought a minority share of the Mets for $200 million (the president of Greenlight Capital Inc. even dressed up as Dave Kingman for Halloween in 1975, so maybe this will be a good marriage). But if Wilpon really love the Mets, as he always says he does, then now is the time to show it -- by not selling a minority share of the team, but the whole shebang. And who better than little Dave Kingman to take over?
And now on to the other top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
Subway Series Snapshots: Maybe the series has lost its snap, crackle and pop, as it's a pale comparison to years past (and I never liked interleague play anyway . . . or the DH for that matter . . . or iPods . . . or CDs . . . or color TV . . . and let's get rid of talking movies . . . and what's wrong with horses, that we need cars so much? . . . ), but something usually memorable happens, and this time it was the New York Yankees' eight-run seventh inning in the finale that will stick out . . . The Mets are no longer real underdogs, what with all the money they spend, but it was fun to pit the $200 million, All-Stars-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see Yankees vs. the Buffalo Mets this time around . . . The Bombers' MVP was $30-million-man Alex Rodriguez, while the Mets' hero was The Man From Nowhere, Justin Turner, who after setting a Met rookie record by driving in a run in seven consecutive games, was finally thwarted on Sunday when he became human again with a hitless and RBI-less game . . . Speaking of records, Derek Jeter tied a franchise mark with his 326th career stolen base, which equals Rickey Henderson's total at the top of the list . . . And Pedro Beato set a Met milestone when he threw his 18th scoreless inning to start his career, which broke Jack DiLauro's record from 1969 . . . While Robinson Cano reverted back to his lazy, careless ways in the field, Mark Teixeira showed why he's the best-fielding first baseman in baseball with one sparkling play after another . . . Mike Pelfrey looked more like A.J. Burnett than A.J. Burnett did in his Sunday afternoon meltdown . . . R.A. Dickey tossed his best game of the year, and maybe that will turn his season around (no, wait, I guess not -- see below) . . . Curtis Granderson's stellar season couldn't happen to a nicer guy. He's a Yankee even Yankee-haters can't help but like.
Back in Business: The Yankees began the week by winning two out of three against a city rival, and they followed that three-game set with a series against a team that they've shared a division with since 1977, but it's hard to come up with even one memorable moment between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yanks. It's a rivalry in a technical sense only, which is fine with the Bombers, as they won another series against the Jays, which helps to put their six-game losing streak far away in the rearview mirror. After losing the opener on Monday, the Yankees had a rare-for-2011 walk-off win on Tuesday and kept up their non-home-run scoring binge, which they began against the Mets on Sunday. But in Wednesday's victory they were back on familiar footing with three more long balls and a 7-3 victory. Mariano Rivera finished up the game for the Yanks, and with it he became the first player in major league history to make 1,000 appearances with the same team. And finally, with Posada-Gate behind them, the negative news that will get much of the focus is centered on Rafael Soriano and his injured arm. That $35 million invested in the reliever? Well, at the moment it looks like they might as well have just set the cash on fire. But we know the Yankees -- they'll just go out and get somebody else if they need to bolster their bullpen. When has a disastrous signing ever stopped them from doing anything? A measly amount like $35 million is spare change found in the couch cushions for the Bombers.
Spiraling Downward: Speaking of rivalries, the Mets took on their old NL East rival, the Chicago Cubs. After the Cubs, along with the St. Louis Cardinals, bullied their way into the East Division in 1969 because they didn't want all those West Coast games bringing down their TV ratings (with the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds going to the NL West as their owners weren't as powerful as the Cubs' and Cards'), the Mets shared the division with Chicago for 25 years and had a bunch of close races and highlights, including 1969 and 1984, of course. Now they only face each other a handful of times a year, and the hatred is all but gone. Ok, I was just trying to distract everyone from thinking about the Mets for a moment with that humdrum history lesson. It sure seemed like the Mets had a Fred Wilpon hangover in Tuesday's 11-1 drubbing, which was their worst-played game of the season. They bounced back on Wednesday, though, with Dillon Gee repeating what CC Sabathia did on Tuesday, by composing himself after an initial bad inning, giving his team a chance to win, and then said team coming back to win. But then the ugliness returned on Thursday, and (of course) now R.A. Dickey is injured. It looks like reaching the .500 mark last Friday might be the highlight of the season. At least no one on the Mets, including Wilpon, made a ridiculous reference to Anne Frank, though, the way Tiki Barber did, so they have that going for them
What's Going on Here? First it was Derek Boogaard, then Harmon Killebrew and now this week Paul Splittorff passed away, at the age of 64. He's the all-time Royals' leader in wins (166), and he faced the Yankees in four different playoff series (1976-'78, '80). In six postseason games against the Bombers, he was 2-0 with a 2.68 ERA. On top off all that sad news, Gary Carter has been diagnosed with four small brain tumors. Say it ain't so. The Hall of Fame catcher was the final piece to the puzzle for the '86 Mets. He began his Met career with a walk-off home run on opening day of 1985, and he drove in nine runs in the World Series the next year, not to mention starting the infamous two-out rally in Game Six. But if anyone can pull through and beat this, it's the always optimistic, enthusiastic Carter. He wasn't called The Kid for nothing.
Odds & Ends: Kyle Okposo signed a five-year deal with the New York Islanders (let's hope the Isles will still be here at the end of that contract). Kris Humphries announced his engagement to Kim Kardashian. Former New Jersey Devil Brian Rafalski and ex-Islander and New York Ranger Doug Weight announced their retirements. And the end of the world did not take place on Saturday evening, but we also discovered there will be no Triple Crown winner yet again. After Animal Kingdom came out of nowhere to win the Kentucky Derby, Shackleford did the same at Pimlico, to take the second round of the horse-racing hat trick. Of course, the Belmont Stakes will now be an anticlimactic finish to the Big Three. So now the question is: What will happen first, a Triple Crown or the end of the world?