Briefly, here’s the reason I think Fred Wilpon’s comments in The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated are so significant to the fan base.
I think he took away hope.
See, it doesn’t matter what is happening in a baseball season- fans can still find ample reason for optimism. Maybe they’ll come back tonight. Or if not, maybe the winning streak starts tomorrow. Or fine, this year is shot- but what about a big offseason acquisition? Next year is the year.
So what did Wilpon do? In the span of two interviews, he made it clear that this team, in his opinion, isn’t coming back when trailing. They aren’t good enough to win this season. And he’s cutting payroll, so the winter won’t fix anything. With a relatively moribund farm system, that means a difficult 2012, too.
That’s a lot of hope to extinguish before Memorial Day.
As to the reasons why, I think people are looking too deeply into the Machiavellian reasons Fred Wilpon did this. Did he have reason to believe Omar Minaya could turn this team around for years before firing him? Of course not. Same with Steve Phillips. And so on.
The man makes a lot of decisions that aren’t in his best interest. If you think otherwise, Bernie Madoff has a black box strategy to sell you.
And the ramifications are going to be profound. The Mets weren’t drawing well before this. But fans are going to stay away in much greater numbers. And those that show up are going to protest. That is the new reality coming to SNY every night.
This is unprecedented. This isn’t George Steinbrenner expressing rage at his players and vowing to get better ones. This is Fred Wilpon disparaging his best players and vowing to replace them… with nothing.
Only a quick intervention from MLB, or a speedy trial with Irving Picard, can keep this worst-case scenario from becoming reality.