Fred Wilpon won Monday morning just as clearly as 16 college basketball teams won over the weekend, and yet he should not bother grabbing any scissors, climbing any ladders or cutting down any nets.
The owner of the New York Mets made a smart deal, finally, when he avoided a trial and settled with the trustee representing Bernie Madoff's victims. The headlines say Wilpon, Saul Katz and partners accepted a bill for $162 million, but the actual payoff should end up considerably south of that.
Believe it or not, the agreement allows Mets owners to pursue the $178 million they claimed they lost with Madoff in other accounts, and to apply whatever they recover to their tab. They might end up paying as little as $29 million, and, oh yeah, they don't have to cough up a dime for three years.
This deal is so good, in fact, it sounds like Madoff arranged it from behind bars.
But after dodging an inevitable series of embarrassing courtroom disclosures, a possible judgment of $300 million and change and the likely surrender of his ballclub -- never mind the tattered remains of his good name -- in the event of a defeat, Wilpon needs to understand something:
He's still a net loser in every conceivable way.