A Baseball Commentary
Schmuck, a Yiddish word, has a range of meanings depending on context. In its most innocuous use, a schmuck is a person who does a stupid thing, in which case “dumb schmuck” is the appropriate expression. from www.SchmuckU.com
I think we can all agree with Fred Wilpon, principal owner of the NY Mets that he is, indeed, a schmuck. Wilpon, self deprecatingly referred to himself as such in a recent interview with New Yorker Magazine.
To put his comment in context, Wilpon was remarking about his decision in 2005 to sign Carlos Beltran to a very lucrative long-term contract, making him the center fielder and crown jewel in the Mets lineup. But Fred, this decision does not make you a schmuck.
Consider the facts…Beltran was coming off an historic 2004 post season where he tied an MLB record with 8 post season home runs with the Houston Astros. He had been rookie of the year, was amassing decent if not remarkable stats, and was still relatively young (27) at the time. He is now a five time All-Star and while he’s suffered some injuries in his six plus years in NY, and Mets fans have on more than one occasion been disappointed in his performance in clutch situations, Beltran is a classic “three tool” player. He has distinguished himself as a true power hitter (tied for Mets season HR record at 41), excellent fielder (3 gold glove awards), and base runner (highest stolen base percentage (88%) in MLB since 2000 and is the all time club leader in runs scored at 126).
Beltran’s contract is expiring this year and he is approaching the end of his career so one could argue (especially now that he has once again found his stride and is producing consistently) that it makes sense to try to trade him to a contending team for one or more young prospects. But geez Fred, if that’s your intention, hold your cards up.
Wilpon, in an uncharacteristically expansive mood with the media, also went on to dump on fan favorites Jose Reyes and David Wright. Both Reyes and Wright are young, exciting players of All-Star caliber who have not yet hit their professional stride. While not consistently great, they have both shown potential for brilliant play. Ironically, Jose Reyes who is coming off several injury-marred seasons is playing the best baseball of his young career and is currently tearing up the National League (leading the league in batting average, total hits, doubles, triples, and runs scored; second in stolen bases).
Fred, trash-talking about your players to the media…THAT is what makes you the schmuck. Are you trying to fill the void left by George Steinbrenner?
Your half-assed, phone-in apology didn’t help either. Publically denigrating your players’ abilities and contributions to the team is not just a low-class act but is an incredibly stupid business maneuver when you are possibly shopping them for potential trades. And on that note, Reyes and Wright are among the few reasons people still pay for overpriced tickets to come to Citi Field despite the erratic performance of the team (an underground fan movement to keep Reyes as a NY Met is growing).
Fred, do you really want to field a complete team of low-rent nobodies in New York? Doesn’t sound like a smart business decision. Even if you can’t manage to assemble a winning team, let’s keep it exciting. Somehow, in spite of your arrogance and lousy business skills you’ve found a new partner to feed off. We won’t be surprised though, to read your characterization of the deal in next month’s New Yorker: “Wilpon to new minority owner: Sucker!”
PS: Despite my feelings about his unfortunate media statements re: Mets players, this author does not believe that Wilpon and associates were knowing accomplices of Bernie Madoff as Trustee Irving Pickard alleges. Being dumb and in this case naive, does not make him a crook.