Can things get any worse for the New York Mets? According to a new book about the Bernard Madoff scandal, the answer may well be yes.
The team, which was expected to contend for a World Series title this year but finds itself far out of the playoff hunt due to a rash of injuries, may have to be sold as a result of huge losses suffered by its owners in the $65 billion Ponzi scheme. The Wilpon family is said to have lost as much as $700 million in the scam, perpetrated by long-time family friend (and former Mets season ticket holder) Madoff. Dozens of Madoff accounts were linked to the family; many listed the Mets’ former home, Shea Stadium, as their address.
Now, Wilpons may be forced to part with the team, which they have owned half of since 1986, and outright since 2002, according to Erin Arvedlund, author of a new book about the scandal.
“You can quote me,” Arvedlund told MarketWatch. “It’s a matter of when. It could be a soon as next year.”
The Mets, as they have since the Madoff scandal broke, denied that the Wilpon’s losses would affect the team, and cast doubt on just how much the owners lost.
“The numbers speculated continue to be inaccurate,” a spokesman told MarketWatch. “We refute what has been reported. As we have said on numerous occasions, losses incurred by the Sterling Partners do not and will not affect the day-to-day operations and long-term plans of the Mets organization. The team is not for sale in any respect.”
Arvedlund’s book, Too Good to Be True, hit stores earlier this month.
Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon and Madoff have been friends for decades. Arvedlund said “they knew each other way back.” What’s more, their sons, Jeff Wilpon, who now runs the Mets, and Mark Madoff, who may be indicted for his alleged role in the fraud as soon as next week, are also close.
As for the Mets, they continue to play out the string with their makeshift roster. Changes were already coming for the team, which is 16.5 games out of first place. Will it start at the top?