The Mets lost to the Cubs, 9-3, in the rubber game at frigid Wrigley Field. And they lost R.A. Dickey in the third inning to pain in his right heel. But Fred Wilpon and family did get a pledge of $200 million from David Einhorn to purchase a minority, non-controlling share of the team.
Friday's news reports:
• Record columnist Bob Klapisch believes Einhorn has bigger ambitions than a silent 30 percent share. He notes how Einhorn this week called for the ouster of Microsoft's top executive. Writes Klapisch:
Ask yourself: If Einhorn, a human shark, is ready to take down one of the nation’s foremost executives, what chance do the Wilpons have of surviving? Einhorn already knows how badly the Wilpons, along with brother-in-law Saul Katz, have ruined the franchise. Despite a beautiful, still-new ballpark, a highly successful regional sports network and a stage in the country’s biggest market, the Mets are nearly $600 million in debt, on their way to losing $70 million in 2011 alone. Einhorn knows Irving Picard, the Madoff bankruptcy attorney, is moving relentlessly toward a $1 billion judgment against Sterling Equities. Even if he doesn’t get that amount and chooses to settle, the cost of making the case go away is more than the Wilpons can withstand.
• The Times' Richard Sandomir and Andrew Ross Sorkin suggest the Wilpons erred in announcing the deal before it is officially signed and completed. They write:
Though announcing that a buyer has entered an exclusive negotiating period to buy all or part of a sports team is not rare, it carries some risk. Several sports bankers said that by identifying a single investor, the Mets had given Einhorn leverage to demand a better deal before it is completed. And if the talks fall through, the Mets risk embarrassment — and will again be in dire need of cash. “Rule No. 1 is you never have a press conference unless you have a deal signed,” said a banker who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to affect the business he does with the Mets. “Now Einhorn owns them because they have to do the deal.”
• Newsday's Michael Amon and Neil Best suggest the $200 million infusion from Einhorn may not be enough to salvage the organization's finances. That's primarily because the Wilpons still face a $1 billion-plus lawsuit from Irving Picard. The reporters quote Robert Boland, an NYU sports business professor, saying: "I think, sadly, the Picard situation is the greatest threat to the Wilpons' continued ownership of the Mets." Write Amon and Best:
In an interview in Sports Illustrated before the agreement was announced, Wilpon said $25 million from an investor would go to pay off an emergency loan last fall from Major League Baseball , $75 million to reduce other debt and $100 million to cover operating costs. Still, should Wilpon and Katz fail in the showdown with Picard, they may be forced to sell the team -- and Einhorn would have a good shot to take over, said the source familiar with the deal.
• Angel Pagan probably will be activated Friday, even if his one-game rehab relocation to Triple-A Buffalo was rained out. Terry Collins indicated Fernando Martinez is the likely demotee. Also injury-related, Ike Davis' sprained left ankle is not progressing. Read more on the injury updates in Newsday and the Star-Ledger.
• The Wilpons are trying to move the $1 billion lawsuit against them from U.S. Bankruptcy Court to Federal District Court, Newsday reports. The article speculates the request buys time because it needs to be heard, and also attempts to move the case out of Picard's bankruptcy court turf. One expert, Howard Kleinhendler, was skeptical the maneuver would actually result in a shift of courts because "the trustee is doing garden variety bankruptcy work."
• The Wall Street Journal looks at the trend of Wall Street financiers becoming sports owners, writing:
So far, three people with ties to the region's financial industry have taken the full plunge and become majority and managing owners of Major League teams. They are Bronx-bred Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, Boston's John Henry and Brooklyn native and Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg.
BIRTHDAY: Former Mets catcher Todd Hundley turns 41. Hundley hit 124 home runs for the Mets from 1990 to 1998. He shares the club record for long balls in a season with 41, a mark matched by Carlos Beltran in 2006. -Mark Simon