How do the Wilpons lose the Mets?

I've known Fred Wilpon for more than a decade, but that is sort of an untrue statement.

There has always been a standoffish quality to him. This may have been partly because I was the beat guy for the New York Post for a few years or it could be how he is with most reporters. One thing that always stuck out about Fred is that when things weren't going well he was much harder to get on the phone than when the Mets were winning.

Still, some like to say Fred is a good man -- and I have no reason to doubt that, nor really any first-hand reasons to say that it is certainly true. He has always kept at a distance.

One thing I am certain of is that he really has a sincere love of owning the Mets. He loves the game and loves being the man in charge of the Mets. He also loves the idea of passing it down from generation to generation.

At this point, it seems to me he is putting his love of the Mets ahead of your love of the Mets. He wants Jeff, his son, and then Jeff's sons to own the team.

You want them to field a competitive teams that can actually pay great players so you can see winning baseball.

That is why my teammate Adam Rubin's excellent piece on how the Wilpons will either end up keeping or losing the team will certainly be the most important thing you read on the team today and possibly this year.

It is a must-read if you are interested in this subject. This is how it ends, quoting Dr. Joel Maxcy, an associate professor and member of Temple University's Sport Industry Research Center.

In the interim, the Mets' payroll could continue to operate on austerity as it will in 2012 -- meaning the team's success primarily will depend upon production from the farm system, as would be the case with a middle- or small-market team.

"It could work," Maxcy said. "Maybe the Madoff settlement is less than expected. Maybe revenues are greater than expected. Maybe the $200 million is raised through the [minority ownership] shares and everything works out. Maybe the team is much more competitive on the field next year than expected -- a good team with a low payroll -- and the economy picks up and so forth.

"But it's certainly a precarious situation that typically, you would say, it would be better for the Mets if a new owner were able to purchase the team."