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NY Mets: Four reasons why you shouldn’t miss The Wilpons

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 28: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon (L) and majority owner Fred Wilpon during batting practice before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on Friday, June 28, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. The Braves defeated the Mets 6-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 28: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon (L) and majority owner Fred Wilpon during batting practice before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on Friday, June 28, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. The Braves defeated the Mets 6-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 28: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon (L) and majority owner Fred Wilpon during batting practice before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on Friday, June 28, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. The Braves defeated the Mets 6-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

New York Mets fans aren’t going to shed a tear when The Wilpons move on.

On September 14, it was announced that Steve Cohen had purchased the New York Mets from the Wilpon and Katz families for $2.42 billion, giving Cohen control of 95% of the team. While the Mets aren’t completely free from the Wilpons, as they retain 5% of the club, the team is no longer under the Wilpon’s authority and control.

If for whatever reason you feel sad about the Mets longtime owners selling the team, don’t be. Rejoice! Kiss your partner on the lips! Embrace the liberation!

The Mets being free of Jeff and Fred Wilpon is the best thing to happen to the Mets in contemporary history (along with Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, and the 2015 World Series).

Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t miss the Wilpon family owning the Mets.

Reason #1: Fred Wilpon’s poor finances got in the way of roster construction and team performance

Fred Wilpon’s relationship with Bernie Madoff in itself was incredibly unacceptable and grounds for disqualification as an MLB owner. Madoff, the dude behind the largest financial crime in United States history (a $64 billion dollar Ponzi Scheme), was part of the Mets finances and business plan.

Josh Nathan-Kazis of The Forward summed it up nicely in 2015:

"“The role of Madoff at the Mets organization, as described in court filings and press reports that began to emerge in 2011, was very much like that of a very rich uncle. The team had 16 accounts with Madoff. Madoff’s season-ticket seats were near those of Katz and Wilpon. Cash flow for day-to-day Mets operations was paid out of Madoff accounts. When the Mets signed big contracts that involved deferred compensation, Madoff held that money.”"

We are painted a picture of this almost too good to believe wealthy business partner of Wilpon who is essentially a shadow owner bankrolling the team’s finances. The Wilpons had no problem signing big free agents to large deals because they were going to make money off those deferments through Madoff.

The Mets operated like a large market team after Wilpon gained full control of the Mets in 2002. With the help of Madoff, the Mets were in the top 5 in payroll every season from 2003-2009. The club signed stars like Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Tom Glavine, Billy Wagner, Jason Bay, and Francisco Rodriguez while trading for big contracts like Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana.

This was the golden era of Wilpon’s majority ownership, but the good times did not last. The damn broke when Madoff was arrested in late 2008. Wilpon lost $500 million dollars overnight from the fallout. In 2009 and 2010, the Mets had to borrow $880 million to stay afloat.

The Mets stopped spending on free agents and slashed payroll to where by 2014 the Mets had dropped to 22nd in the league. The well was dry (yes another water metaphor). Uncle Madoff wasn’t around to bankroll the team anymore.

To this day, the Mets payroll has remained mid-tier for what now has been a decade. Throughout the 2010s, the Mets were not serious players in free agency. The Mets never signed any top free agents and instead dumpster-dived in the bargain bin. The team was not operating at full capacity.

Imagine if they were at full capacity? With the core the Mets have had since 2015, there’s no reason why the Mets shouldn’t have made the playoffs the last five seasons. Payroll limitations hurt the team’s bid for a followup to their 2015 World Series appearance.

Wilpon’s finances have limited the Mets team since the arrest of Madoff and it has negatively impacted the quality of the roster. Wilpon won’t be missed because it is unacceptable for an owner’s poor finances to get in the way of roster construction and team performance.

Major League Baseball should have never let the Mets operate at lowered capacity for so long. Hopefully, the Mets become major players in free agency again under Steve Cohen’s ownership. Maybe under Cohen, the Mets can sneak back into the top 5 in payroll for the first time in over a decade.

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