Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon

The Wilpons fire back


After yesterday’s New York Times story alleging that the Wilpons steered others toward Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme, the Wilpons have decided not to take this lying down. The Wilpons’ lawyer to the Daily News:

“We believe the complaint is baseless, both factually and legally. We have conveyed that to the trustee’s counsel. Fred Wilpon, Saul and the other partners did not know that Bernie Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme.” … None of the evidence, they added, suggests Wilpon and his associates knew that Madoff was engaged in the massive fraud that earned the former Wall Street star a 150-year prison sentence.

An anonymous source close to the Wilpons added “this is total extortion.”  And while the Wilpons or their lawyers have to be mindful of what they say publicly, Mike Lupica doesn’t, and today he rails at the bankruptcy trustee and the Times coverage, calling it a smear and calling Wilpon a victim in all of this.

A court will ultimately weigh in on all of this, so neither yesterday’s Times story nor today’s News story decides anything, of course.  Each can and probably should be read as a p.r. offensive by the bankruptcy trustee (Times story) and the Wilpons (today’s story in the News).  That doesn’t mean that anything in either story is false. It just means that we can’t take it at face value. Every plaintiff I have ever known has began a case by painting the defendant as an evil doer. Every defendant I have ever known has claimed that he’s the victim of a shakedown. This is par for the course.

What will really shed the most light on what’s going on is when and if the pleadings in the case are unsealed, as multiple media outlets are currently seeking to have done.  Because it’s one thing to leak or say something to a newspaper. It’s a totally different thing to say something in a legal document. Allegations in the complaint and subsequent filings by the trustee must be made in good faith and he is subject to legal sanction if they are truly “baseless” or if the case is really just “total extortion.”  I’d like to see those allegations and the exhibits the trustee contends supports them.

I suspect this settles before then. But I would really like to know what the trustee thinks he has on the Wilpons. Wouldn’t you?

Indians beat writer jumps in Lake Erie to settle a bet

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Back in September Cleveland Plain Dealer beat writer Paul Hoynes ruffled a lot of feathers when he declared the Indians DOA. His rationale: too many injuries to Indians starters weakened the club too greatly. Even if they did make the playoffs, Hoynes argued, they wouldn’t go far.

A reader made a bet with him at the time: if the Indians didn’t make the World Series, he’d jump in Lake Erie. If they did, Hoynes would.

Today Hoynes made good on his bet. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a baseball writer drop trou, by the way:


The Cubs have been baseball’s unluckiest team

1908 Cubs
Library of Congress
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If you throw the word “luck” into a sports conversation you’re gonna anger some people because people don’t like to ever chalk up their own success or their team’s success to anything apart from their own skill, worthiness and merit. What we usually refer to as “luck,” however, is not meant to detract from one’s merit. It’s more about outcomes that were not necessarily predictable or expected given all of the known variables.

Thing is, we really don’t have a concise and compact word that captures the notion of “unreasonably underperforming or unreasonably outperforming one’s statistical expectations,” so the word “luck” is about as good as we can do. Sorry if that offends, but focus more on what we’re getting at when we talk about sports luck and less about how you feel about the concept of luck in general, OK?

With that in mind, know that, according to Rob Arthur of FiveThirtyEight, the Cubs have been the unluckiest franchise in baseball history in terms of turning success into championships. Given how much they’ve won over the years, they should have had six or seven championships and not the two they have (with none for 108 years, of course).

The luckiest? The Yankees. While they have obviously been immensely talented throughout their history, the numbers suggest that they should “only” have 19 or 20 World Series titles. They have 27. They’d still have the most if everyone performed at their level of statistical expectations, but their 16-title lead over the next most successful World Series team — the Cardinals — should not be as great as it is.