Madoff bankruptcy trustee increases his claim against Wilpon and friends: to one BILLION dollars

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You can ask for anything you want in a complaint, but when you start off by asking for $300 million from the Wilpons and Saul Katz, and then increase your demand to one billion, one would assume there’s a reason for that:

The amended complaint also provides additional substantiation of the inter-dependent relationship between Sterling and BLMIS as well as certain Sterling partners’ knowledge of Madoff’s dishonesty in his investment advisory business. For instance, the amended complaint details a multi-million-dollar interest- and cost-free bridge loan from Madoff to Sterling in connection with its purchase of the broadcast rights for the New York Mets from Cablevision. This transaction was documented by a single letter agreement that falsely described the loan as an “investment” by Ruth Madoff in the company that would later become the SNY network.

That’s from the press release announcing the amended complaint.  If SNY is somehow brought into this lawsuit and somehow encumbered, it’s major trouble for the Wilpons, as the network is probably more valuable to them than the Mets are.

Now, I shall go refresh the New York Times web page until I see some great pro-Picard spin, and refresh the Daily News until I see some great pro-Wilpon spin.  Meanwhile: certain commenters who tend to be pro-Wilpon in these matters: please explain to us how this is no big deal.

UPDATE:  I received an email from the Wilpons’ and Katz’s P.R. people, with statements from both Fred Wilpon and from the New York Mets.  Here’s Wilpon’s statement:

“The amended complaint is the latest chapter in the work of fiction created by the Trustee.  We will pursue a vigorous legal defense that will set the record straight and vindicate us.”

And here’s the statement from David Cohen, the General Counsel of the Mets:

“This is more nonsense from the Trustee. The $54 million represented funds the Sterling partners had invested with Madoff, as the Trustee acknowledges. As the Trustee also acknowledges, that money was never used — and in fact was returned the next day — because the necessary funds were received from Sterling’s lenders by the buyout deadline, and were used to fund the buyout.”

A press release from the plaintiff and Official Statements from the defendants ain’t exactly the most efficient way to get to the truth of the matter, but I suppose that’s what the courts are for.

Good luck, gentlemen! We’re all watching!

Bryce Harper finally gets his first spring training hit with Phillies

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Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper hasn’t had the best spring training showing. After a delayed start because he didn’t officially sign until early this month, Harper made his Phillies debut on March 9. Then Harper had an injury scare when he was hit in the ankle by a pitch on March 15. Harper returned on Sunday and finally registered his first hit of the spring on Wednesday — a line drive up the middle.

Harper finished 1-for-2 with a walk on the afternoon. In 10 official at-bats, Harper is batting .100/.438/.100. As you can see, five total walks are helping that on-base percentage. Spring stats are largely meaningless, though, so no one should be worried about Harper with the start of the regular season just a week away.