SBD/February 9, 2011/Franchises

Former Mets Manager Davey Johnson Voices Support For Wilpons, Katz

Johnson said the Wilpons and Saul Katz have been great owners for the Mets
Former Mets manager Davey Johnson last night praised the track record of team Owner Fred Wilpon, joining an extensive list of friends, colleagues and former employees coming to the defense of the embattled Wilpon, his son and Mets COO Jeff, and team President Saul Katz as they face a more than $300M clawback lawsuit from victims of the Bernie Madoff financial scandal. Johnson, now a special advisor to the Nationals, was in N.Y., along with former Red Sox 1B Bill Buckner, to help promote MSG's upcoming four-part TV series, "Summer of '86: The Rise and Fall of the World Champion Mets," beginning March 1. "I love the Wilpons. They've been great owners. I hate to see a problem like this happening, because they've given their lives to this franchise," Johnson said. "I'm really disturbed by what I'm reading." Johnson said he has had no contact recently with the Mets, and that he has no interest in participating in the recently announced push for minority investors in the franchise. "I love the Mets, but I'm doing everything I can (with the Nationals) to beat them," he said (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). On Long Island, Dan Janison notes a "question now cropping up" among New York politicians is whether candidates for public office will "continue to seek out or accept political contributions" from the Wilpons, Katz and their Sterling Equities. Nassau County Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs said, "I don't see any problem ethically or otherwise. I think they're both wonderful individuals. I think it's unfortunate the way they've been treated in the press, frankly. And I don't subscribe to it." But a New York state Democratic consultant said, "Politicians will think twice about taking his checks." A fundraiser added, "The truth is, Wilpon has never been on anyone's short list of contributors you have to have. His checks will be missed but at this point they can't be accepted" (NEWSDAY, 2/9).

CAUGHT IN A RUNDOWN: SI.com's Lee Jenkins wrote Fred Wilpon's involvement in the Madoff scheme "proves only what Mets fans already knew: Wilpon often trusts the wrong people." Jenkins: "The specter of a lawsuit will hang over the Mets as it has the Dodgers, and even if it does not affect personnel decisions or payroll, the perception that it does will be impossible to avoid. The Mets hoped to start fresh this season with new general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, but the same cloud keeps following them, pausing only to change shape" (SI.com, 2/8).
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