We haven’t really covered this story, but the short version is this: The Cubs have trained in Arizona for 50 years, but their facilities are getting long in the tooth and they need new digs. Naples, Florida stepped up with a very attractive proposal to lure the Cubs to the Grapefruit League. It appeared as though the Cubs were going to jump, but at the last minute Mesa, Arizona made some concessions and the Cubs will stay in some fancy new facility to be named later.
This could simply be the way these things happen. If you believe what some people are saying, however, it could all be a big conspiracy theory in which Bud Selig strongly urged the Rickettseseses to take the Arizona deal — which is still a pipe dream by the way, because it needs voter approval which like less than a sure thing — and in turn will position the Brewers to take advantage of whatever the folks in Florida are offering when it comes time for them to find a new spring training home.
I love a good Bud-is-evil story as much as the next guy, but this one sounds like it has way too many moving parts to satisfy even my low conspiracy theory acceptance threshold. Still, there’s nothing more shady than a stadium deal, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the deals for spring training facilities are even more shady than they are for the big league parks. Fewer people watching, don’t you know.
Marc Carig of Newsday took Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon to the woodshed over the weekend. He, quite justifiably, lambasted them for their inexplicable frugality, their seeming indifference to wanting to put a winning team on the field and, above all else, their unwillingness to level with the fans or the press about the team’s plans or priorities.
Mets ownership is unaccountable, Carig argues, asking everything of fans and giving nothing in the way of a plan or even hope in return:
Mets fans ought to know where their money is going, because it’s clear that much of it isn’t ending up on the field . . . They never talk about money. Whether it’s arrogance or simply negligence, they have no problem asking fans to pony up the cash and never show the willingness to reciprocate.
And they’re not just failing to be forthcoming with the fans. Even the front office is in the dark about the direction of the team at any given time:
According to sources, the front office has only a fuzzy idea of what they actually have to spend in any given offseason. They’re often flying blind, forced to navigate the winter under the weight of an invisible salary cap. This is not the behavior of a franchise that wants to win.
Carig is not a hot take artist and is not usually one to rip a team or its ownership like this. As such, it should not be read as a columnist just looking to bash the Wilpons on a slow news day. To the contrary, this reads like something well-considered and a long time in the works. It has the added benefit of being 100% true and justified. The Mets have been run like a third rate operation for years. Even when the product on the field is good, fans have no confidence that ownership will do what it takes to maintain that success.
All that seems to matter to the Wilpons is the bottom line and everything flows from there. They may as well be making sewing machines or selling furniture.