Barring a settlement, it looks as though the trial in which the Mets owners are being accused of either knowing about or being negligent regarding the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme is going to go down next month. And though the ultimate outcome of that trial will have a big impact on the Mets, the blow-by-blow of it all is not really about baseball — and it’s kind of boring — so we haven’t been following it too closely recently.
But there’s a story in the New York Times that is interesting enough to catch my attention. It’s about the Wilpons’ sole expert witness in the case. An expert witness — by the name of John Maine, which is cool — who will testify that the Wilpons had no reason to know what was going on and had adequately fulfilled their duties once they learned what was happening. He did that once before in another case, however, and it didn’t go so well:
Maine testified that the supervisor’s responsibilities for protecting against fraud were limited, and effectively ended when he reported suspicions about the broker up the chain of command at Dean Witter. The expert testimony didn’t fly. Indeed, the S.E.C. judge overseeing the case against the supervisor actually offered a withering critique of Maine’s testimony.
Maine “had not read any case law on the topic” at hand, Thomas Kelly, the administrative law judge, wrote in his opinion. The judge also said that it appeared Maine’s “written expert testimony was prepared in large part” not by Maine, but by the supervisor’s lawyers who had hired him.
Now, this was a long time ago, and he has since testified in many, many cases. If they had consistently gone bad, you can imagine that the Times would have dug them up too. Being an expert witness is quite often a professional gig, and sometimes an expert’s testimony and credibility is blown out of the water in one case while it carries the day wonderfully in the next.
But it’s still kind of interesting. And it reminds us that the Wilpons have an awful lot riding on this case.
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.