In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon made an historic visit to the People’s Republic of China, formally normalizing relations with the burgeoning superpower after 25 years of distrust and separation. It was said then that, “Only Nixon could go to China.” The meaning was that it took a President with unassailable bona fides to make that trip. It couldn’t have come from an old liberal who was perceived as soft on commies. It had to be Nixon. His rigid, conservative agenda helped shut the door in the first place.
I’m wondering if, in a quasi-similar way, only Jeff Wilpon can save the Mets. That the rescue has to come from our foe, one of the very ninnies who helped make things so bad in the first place. I honestly think there’s a scenario where he’s the guy who can get it done, much in the way a foot-stomping child in full tantrum can get that candy bar he really, really, really wants. “Okay, Jeff, here’s the damn money. Now stop crying.” For all his well-documented faults, I think Jeff dreams of heroically leading the Mets to a World Series.
Oh, I have no doubt that he dreams it. I do have strong doubts that he can accomplish the task. But I also have said I wish he was in total control, I wish Fred and Saul were out-of-the-way. I look forward to the Jeff era, which sure seems inevitable. Here is why. Like you just said, Jeff wants to win. Fred and Saul just want to strip mine the franchise to keep their real estate business afloat. Especially Saul. At least with Jeff in charge we would finally get an answer to the question of, “Are they cheap, or are they broke?” If the money is there, I think Jeff spends it. How wisely, oh boy, that I don’t know. But there would be value in that exercise. If Jeff blows the whole thing to smithereens, maybe he bankrupts Sterling Equities and SNY. Maybe, especially with Bud finally moving on, a sale of the Mets is forced. That is worth a lot to me.
The idea of Wilponless Mets, I think that is my vision of heaven. And Jeff could really speed up that process. I think he has a gift for making things really bad. Or I’m wrong, and Jeff pulls it off. The team is good, and becomes profitable under his stewardship. I can live with that too, no problem. Anyone who thinks George Steinbrenner was anything other than a horse’s ass wasn’t paying attention. Yankee fans don’t care. Winning cures all. Jeff gives me a Mets parade down the Canyon of Heroes, I’m standing tall and cheering him. “Go, Jeff!”
It’s crazy, I know. We’re pretty much agreed that he’s a guy we love to hate. The classic guy who was born on the third base, as the expression goes. But he’s been around the game for a long time. He’s seen a lot, talked to everyone. I bet he figures he knows a thing or two himself. And he probably does. Just enough to make him dangerous. A confident fool.
That’s the funny and infuriating thing about baseball. Everybody thinks he’s an expert (ourselves included). And I mean: every-buh-dee. You see it at the Little League complex. The fat guy clutching a basket of popcorn chicken who last saw his feet twenty years ago — even he has strong opinions. We all do. That’s not how it is with other sports, where most of us don’t have those childhood memories to draw upon. How many of us played lacrosse or competitive volleyball? We attend those games — or matches, or contests, or whatever they’re called — and clap politely for our kids, while asking the guy next to us, “What just happened?” With baseball, everybody thinks he knows best. Surely Jeff falls into that category.
Another reason I long for Jeff calling the shots is it would be exciting. Imagine if Jeff was the guy on with Francesa or Kay, not Sandy. I think he really wants the spotlight, and I think it would be fun to watch him, in a bad Karaoke way. Jeff is itching to be active, he wants to be the next Steinbrenner. It would be interesting to watch. Let’s be honest, car crashes are interesting. Rubber necking delays are real things.
Of course, the guy I really want to see get involved is Bruce Wilpon. Or, actually, Bruce’s billionairess wife, Yuki Oshima-Wilpon. Bring in the monster money, the silly cash and all that flash, sprinkled with a dose of batshit crazy. That’s my real hope. Bruce comes back to the family business the same way Michael Corleone came back from the war.
And as for Fredo, I mean, Jeff, well, somebody’s got to run things in Vegas.