The Wilpons fire back

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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?

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.