…but someone does, and the focus of today’s blog is the always controversial ownership of the New York Mets—Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz—and the importance of transparency in sports.
First off I wanted to extend my congratulations to Mets fans for the re-signing of David Wright. He is a once in a generation type of player for the Mets, and now should finish his career in Queens.
Back on topic; it is well documented that Mets ownership put a lot of their eggs in the Bernie Madoff basket. The team lost considerable money in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and ended up having pay an additional $162 million to the victims of Madoff as part of a settlement.
This money, on top of Money actually lost to Madoff, left the Mets ownership strapped for cash. In order to provide money needed for player contracts and day-to-day operations, the Mets sold minority shares to various wealthy investors.
One such investor was James McCann, the founder of 1-800-Flowers. In a NYT article today, we see some interesting facts about 1-800-Flowers. It seems the company willingly defrauded their consumers, selling information to 3rd party advertisers which created a worthless rewards club, charging customers a monthly fee.
1-800-Flowers has been paid $10 million by the 3rd party advertiser, so who knows how much money the actual defrauding party secured. “The company [1-800-Flowers] paid the $325,000 settlement, and the money was to be used for consumer education, redress, and the costs and fees of the investigation. “ When you can net 9 + million dollars after being caught and found guilty of defrauding customers, clearly something is wrong.
Ultimately, this is an issue of ethics in Baseball. Do we want to hold everyone in baseball to a high standard? Pete Rose, the all time hits leader, is banned from baseball’s Hall of Fame for betting on games he was a part of. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two of baseball statistically most successful players, recently lost their first H.O.F bids due to the PED issue.
Is where player’s money comes from even important? As a fan, would you have an issue knowing your team’s ownership got the money they used to pay your new favorite star player by illegitimate means? It is often argued that corporate philosophy comes from the top down. If those highest up use questionable business practices, does this trickle down to the coaches and players? Sports are entertainment, but they are also big businesses, how should their finances be monitored?
Players are increasingly in the spotlight. The MLB players union is talking with the league about expanding random in-season PED testing to ensure transparency in MLB. Do you believe that upper management in sports should be held to similar high standards that players seem to be facing? Can a league realistically be expected to monitor where a team’s money comes from?
Does any of this even matter to the average fan, or is it all a very far second to the on the field product you team rolls out? Let’s get some discussion going here fellas!