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?
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.