Fred Wilpon kept the off-day lively. Now, it's back to baseball, with the Mets in the Windy City and Jon Niese opposing Ryan Dempster in the opener.
Tuesday's news reports:
Predictably, the coverage is near-exclusively Wilpon-related ...
• Columnist Joel Sherman writes for the Post:
If you cover the Mets with any regularity, you quickly become familiar with just what a tin ear the entire organization has for media and public relations. It is not just the big stuff, such as firing Willie Randolph at 3 a.m. or fighting publicly with Carlos Beltran over knee surgery. It is the hundreds and thousands of little things that are part of the daily process of running a baseball team. The Mets are consistently imperfect at getting out even the simplest of messages. It has reached the point at which I routinely ask Mets officials how dumb their second-best idea must have been to go public with what they do.
• Record columnist Bob Klapisch says this sends a clear signal to other teams the Mets are open for business in trades. Perhaps that will, if not at the trading deadline, include the not-superstar-but-does-everything-the-organization-asks -without-ever-disgracing-them David Wright next offseason. Writes Klapisch:
Or was Wilpon simply using the forum to prepare Mets fans for the upcoming purge at the trading deadline? According to one major league executive, Wilpon’s observations were akin to a clanging of the Chuck Wagon Triangle bell. All that was missing was Wilpon’s rallying cry: Come and get it! “You don’t talk that way about your players unless you’ve distanced yourself from them,” the executive said. “Most owners don’t do this.”
• If you like some on-field baseball, Dan Martin of the Post discusses the success of Jason Isringhausen. J.P. Ricciardi says: "If I had told you on March 1 that he would be our eight-inning setup guy, you would have looked at me like I had six heads. But in this business, you never say no. He wanted to throw for us in spring training and you can't have success if you don't take a chance." Writes Martin:
Jason Isringhausen isn't much for reminiscing about the old days, but he does recall his first game in the majors -- a start for the Mets against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 17, 1995. "I remember the first batter was Brian McRae and I struck him out," said Isringhausen, who gave up two runs in seven innings, but didn't get a decision in that 7-2 Mets win. "It was nerve-wracking and fun. I just tried to come out and throw strikes. Same thing I do now." The 38-year-old right-hander returns to Chicago tonight, a long way from the rookie he was 16 years ago.
• The Post's Mike Puma gets Terry Collins' reaction to his team being called poop-like. “I’m not going to get into that comment. I can't,” Collins responded. As for whether Wilpon's comments will be a distraction, Collins said: "These guys are professionals and I don’t think a lot of that stuff fazes them. The media around here can be very critical at times and I think these guys are aware of it, and you’ve got to go play. They can’t worry about anything else.”
• Times columnist Harvey Araton says Wilpon is passing the buck, writing:
But although Wilpon is no mean-spirited autocrat, he reveals himself to be a why-me whiner and a first-rate revisionist. He may have fingered himself as the dummy who gave Beltran $119 million in 2004 based on one productive postseason, but that is about all the accountability he serves Toobin along with the burgers.
• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro says Wilpon should sell. He doesn't mean a minority share, either. Writes Vaccaro:
Does he love the team? Unquestionably. If he wanted to prove his cred as a fan, he sure did that, sounding like Freddy from Farmingdale in the New Yorker story. Wilpon’s protectors immediately declared this was nothing that Boss Steinbrenner didn’t do back in the day. Only Steinbrenner always backed up his belligerence with his bankbook, sometimes to his detriment. The Yankees were always solvent. Fans who hated Steinbrenner probably hated the vapor-lock grip he held on the team, even in exile, because he could always cover his bets. Remember, Steinbrenner also paid less than $1 million to grab the Yankees, same as Wilpon did with the Mets. Steinbrenner’s break is that he never sent Hank or Hal to Roslyn High School, so they could never run into Mark Madoff in the school cafeteria.
• Star-Ledger columnist Jeff Bradley writes Wilpon's underlying points mostly are correct:
Reyes will only get seven years and $142 million -- what Crawford was given by the Red Sox -- if he gets to free agency and some team with deep pockets has overrated his value, or thinks he’s the final piece in their puzzle (as the Sox did with Crawford, on both counts). The Mets shortstop is exciting, flashy and talented. He’s also missed 150 games to injury the last two seasons. ... Beltran, while a very solid all-around player, got more than he deserved based on his epic 2004 postseason (.435 with eight home runs in 12 playoff games with the Astros). ... Perhaps the only assessment of Wilpon’s that is off the mark is what he had to say about Wright -- and that’s just because the term “superstar” can be defined in different ways.
• Daily News columnist Mike Lupica's take:
Of course this will be treated like the crime of the century around here. It's not, even if Wilpon ought to be on a plane to Chicago today to talk to these players face-to-face and explain to them what he was doing. Or what he thought he was doing. Reyes isn't worth $140 million and Wright, whom I like as much as any ballplayer in town, isn't a superstar. Beltran isn't what he was. All true.
• Even Derek Jeter was asked to weigh in on Wilpon's comments. "Don't drag me into this one too," Jeter said, according to Newsday. "Everybody got that? I've got nothing to do with that."
• A Wilpon-company-owned office park in Hauppauge on Long Island was turned over to creditors after missing mortgage payments, according to Newsday.
• Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski writes the trustee trying to recover funds for Bernard Madoff's victims believes the Wilpons haven't been totally forthcoming in turning over documents. The Wilpons feel the same way about the trustee, Irving Picard.
• According to the Daily News, Wilpon tells Sports Illustrated the Mets are "bleeding cash" and could lose as much as $70 million this season.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever Jerry DiPoto, who served as interim GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks last season after Josh Byrnes' ouster, turns 43. DiPoto went 11-8 in 1995 and '96, pitching 115 times in relief. DiPoto’s primary skill was home-run avoidance. He allowed only seven long balls in 156 innings as a Met. ... Former Mets starter Jae Seo turns 34. The South Korean pitcher's best days came from 2002 to 2005, when he went 22-24 for the Mets. Afterward, for the Rays and Dodgers, he was a combined 6-16. -Mark Simon