Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon

The Wilpons could sell more than 25 percent of the team

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The New York Times reports today that the proposals fielded by the Wilpons in their efforts to find a “strategic partner” (read: cash infusion) suggest that most of the interested parties are interested in more than the 25 percent share of the Mets that the Wilpons want to sell.  This can be inferred by the fact that the man tasked with selling that share told the times “Let’s just say that a noncontrolling stake could be north of 25 percent.”  Many other bids, the Times reports, are only interested in majority stakes.

This is not surprising. As most observers, this observer included, said at the time of the Wilpons’ announcement that they were seeking an investor, being a minority shareholder in a closely-held corporation is rarely anything a person of means wants to be. There are few people less powerful than a 25 percent stakeholder in such a beast, and unless the cash flow is really impressive — which, at least for the time being may not be the case for the Mets — there is very little upside.

My guess is that if the Wilpons do hold on to a majority stake, their minority shareholder will be way closer to 51 percent than they originally hoped. And he or she may very well have options and opportunities to become the majority shareholder one day.  If not, the Wilpons will be dealing with a much smaller group of investors.

In other Wilpon news, the  Daily News reports that the late mother and brothers outgoing chief counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission were Madoff investors themselves. And even better, now the brothers are subject to lawsuits by Irving Picard seeking their Ponzi scheme gains.  The News suggests — and I’m sure at least one commenter in this thread will agree — this helps the Wilpons in that, hey, if family members of the SEC were Wilpon investors and they could be duped, how should the Wilpons ever have known?

Another interpretation, however, is that if the family of the SEC’s top lawyer were invested with Madoff, it’s possible that the SEC was less-than-vigilant than it should have been in investigating him, and thus its failure to do so should not be viewed as a legitimate defense of the Wilpons. Sure, such a thing would be an insult to the SEC’s reputation if it had a stellar track record of investigating industries and institutions to which its employees owe allegiance for various reasons.  But that, sadly, is simply not the case.

The SEC has routinely, either because of incompetence or because of conflict of interest, failed to catch and punish those who should be caught and punished for investment misdeeds. And I’m sure that Picard will have witnesses explain that to any jury that sits in judgment of the Wilpons.

Ichiro was happy to see Pete Rose get defensive about his hits record

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins warms-up during batting practice before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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You’ll recall the little controversy last month when Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose’s hit total. Specifically, when Ichiro’s Japanese and American hit total reached Rose’s American total of 4,256 and a lot of people talked about Ichiro being the new “Hit King.” You’ll also recall that Rose himself got snippy about it, wondering if people would now think of him as “the Hit Queen,” which he took to be disrespect.

There’s a profile of Ichiro over at ESPN the Magazine and reporter Marly Rivera asked Ichiro about that. Ichiro’s comments were interesting and quite insightful about how ego and public perception work in the United States:

I was actually happy to see the Hit King get defensive. I kind of felt I was accepted. I heard that about five years ago Pete Rose did an interview, and he said that he wished that I could break that record. Obviously, this time around it was a different vibe. In the 16 years that I have been here, what I’ve noticed is that in America, when people feel like a person is below them, not just in numbers but in general, they will kind of talk you up. But then when you get up to the same level or maybe even higher, they get in attack mode; they are maybe not as supportive. I kind of felt that this time.

There’s a hell of a lot of truth to that. Whatever professional environment you’re in, you’ll see this play out. If you want to know how you’re doing, look at who your enemies and critics are. If they’re senior to you or better-established in your field, you’re probably doing something right. And they’re probably pretty insecure and maybe even a little afraid of you.

The rest of the article is well worth your time. Ichiro seems like a fascinating, insightful and intelligent dude.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.