The New York Post is quoting anonymous investment bankers and others reportedly with knowledge of the Mets’ finances who say that the Wilpon family is strapped for cash, saddled in debt and that they could even have to sell the team if things don’t turn around quickly. The report itself might be just as troubling as the news therein, however.
From what I can tell, just about all the specifics — the Madoff scam, the fact that the team is heavily in debt, the fact that Citi Field bonds are now at junk status and the fact that attendance, and thus gate, is way down — are old news. There was one thing I hadn’t seen — that the Wilpons mortgaged the team to the tune of $375 million — but the fact that they were able to do so in this tight credit environment suggests that someone is actually optimistic, as opposed to pessimistic — about their and the Mets’ earning ability doesn’t it?
The only inside source on which the Post relies sounds more like loose and opinionated lips of someone with vague knowledge of the team’s finances as opposed to someone who’s actually intimately familiar with them. Quotes like “the family is no longer a bottomless pit” just don’t sound like they came from someone in the business office. The rest of the article is speculation based on those facts listed above that were already known.
I’m not saying that things are rosy — the team could very well be having more financial trouble than we know about — but this article seems like a lot more noise than information.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.