Thursday, March 3, 2011

New York Mets do well by Crooked Bernie Madoff - now plead poverty in MLB bailout

I love economics as much as I love baseball - when the two intersect, it's heaven.

I'm in Heaven!

Last Friday, The New York Times broke a story about how Major League Baseball had to loan the New York Mets 25 Million last fall because the Mets' were on the verge of insolvency.

Immediately the headline had me thinking, 'Is this 'Great Recession' turning into 'Great Depression II' already?!

Mets CEO Fred Wilpon(R), President Saul Katz
It turns out it's not that the Mets' ticket prices are too high - but rather the Mets' owner, Saul Katz  and CEO Fred Wilpon were somehow involved with Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme - that, when the markets crashed in 2008 it was reveiledthat he had stolen over $100 billion (!) dollars from his clients. The Mets' owner and CEO are being sued because apparently, they did well by Madoff - and didn't ask why.  

(Who did?)

The Mets owners are named in a Billion dollar suit, part of trustee Irving H. Picard's 100 billion dollars in filings surrounding Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

From NYT - Feb 25 2011 - "Baseball Gave $25 Million Lifeline to Mets":


The trustee for victims of Mr. Madoff’s fraud has accused Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz of having turned a blind eye to warnings about the suspect nature of his multibillion-dollar investment operation while using the profits they reaped from their investments with him to enrich themselves and fuel their business empire. The trustee, Irving H. Picard, is seeking roughly $1 billion from the team’s owners and their various business partners.


So I was close, the Great Depression II isn't here yet - just more fallout from the financial meltdown that will eventually cause it (if we continue down this austerity/union busting path).

But somehow all this just doesn't add up. If Katz made a killing off Madoff, then why is he broke? Lawyers don't cost a Billion dollars to defend against a Billion dollar lawsuit.

It's a private company, so of coarse all the chairs are being rearranged behind closed doors - for example the CEO Wilpon doesn't have any money - he there as a diversion - as is the franchise (we all know MLB franchises don't make money). That Madoff kept his Billionaire investors happy is no surprise - that is what well managed, well funded Ponzi schemes do - they hood-wink lowly $500,000 investors of their homes and savings - not corporations who have office towers full of lawyers at the ready - the corporate clients are window dressing - they cost money.

If you follow the logic of the above thought experiment,  the next idea in that trail is that Bud Selig and the Saul Katz are running a PR play that they hope will extracate them from this sordid mess. After all, the lawsuit against the Mets is nothing more than a PR move by trustee Picard, it's not likely to result in the Mets paying any money back - money the Mets received as part of a contract they signed with Madoff --- but it is bad for the Mets', and MLB's Public Image, and in the entertainment industry brand is VERY important.  So... a public relations gambit that makes it look like the Mets are poor and thus probably didn't benefit that much from Madoff's thievery - and therefore perhaps the Mets should be crossed off trustee Picard's $100 Billion list of lawsuits.

The timing is interesting too, the season is right around the corner - all the baseball writers are looking for story material before the season proper gets under way. As well, the optics look good for the Mets right now, some of the huge players in the scandal, Wall Street players, are presently suing Pichard because he wants to make public, documents he received from companies like, JP Morgan that show how much money went where. (Bloomberg - Mar 3, 2011: "JPMorgan, Banks Say Madoff Trustee Would Break Secrets Pact":

Ah, the webs we weave...

Reuters Picture, New York Mets CEO Fred Wilpon(R), President Saul Katz: (


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