As we know, the Wilpons are selling off minority stakes in the New York Mets. They want multiple investors to give them $20 million a pop for a non-controlling interest.
Now, anyone familiar with close corporations knows that having that kind of stake in such a business — especially a family business — is an exercise in powerlessness. You have no say in just about anything. The draw of such an investment is that you’ll either (a) get some good cash flow out of it; or (b) your stake will appreciate nicely. And neither of those two things seem likely any time soon with the Mets.
So why would you invest? Well, Richard Sandomir of the New York Times tells us today. Among your ownership perks:
… the $20 million would include one free trip with the team during the regular season (the Mets would pick the city); one free weekend’s stay at spring training; and a lot of potential lunch dates — with broadcasters and former players. A luncheon with the manager and general manager? Off-season only, the document says. Merchandise? Discounts, but not giveaways.
So if a midweek trip to Houston, an all-expenses paid stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Port St. Lucie, an in-season lunch with Wally Backman, an offseason lunch with Terry Collins and deep discounts on an R.A. Dickey bobblehead all sound enticing to you, by all means, give Fred Wilpon that extra $20 million you have laying around.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.