In 2008, Bernard Madoff (hereto “Madoff”) admitted that his Wall Street Firm, “Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC” was an elaborate Ponzi scheme that took money from various individuals and companies to further Madoff’s own financial gain. One of the participants in the Ponzi scheme was the New York Mets. Fred Wilpon, lost nearly $700 million in the infamous Madoff Ponzi Scheme, and had significant ramifications on the franchise. Although the Mets were victims of the Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, they also had their own legal issues to overcome as well. In 2012, Fred Wilpon settled a lawsuit brought by Madoff victims for $ 162 million. This caused further restraints on the New York Mets payrolls, and causing their payroll to drop significantly from $149 million in 2009, to $85 million in 2014. The New York Mets lost a significant amount of games, never, and saw star athletes such as Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado leave the Mets due to the financial damage Madoff caused.
As players left and losses grew, fan frustration developed as well. Reports of fans pleading with Fred Wilpon to sell the team, or Major League Baseball to take action became rampant. Fred Wilpon, however, with the guidance of great Major League Baseball minds, brought in, “Moneyball Expert” Sandy Alderson and player developmental coach, Terry Collins to pursue a different path for the franchise. This began the era of prospects.
Every loss the Mets accumulated over the 6 year period since Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, gave the Mets an opportunity to shift their franchise into a powerhouse for years to come. In Major League Baseball, much like all modern day American sports, the worse record you have the better draft consideration you receive. The Mets finished with losing records from 2009-2014, and as such received high draft consideration. These high draft picks led to players such as Matt Harvey (7th Overall), Michael Conforto (10th Overall), and Kevin Plawecki (35th Overall) being drafted by the Mets. Lower draft picks, which are also vital to a franchise’s growth also led to key franchise players such as Jacob DeGrom (9th Round), Johnathon Niese (7th Round), and Daniel Murphy (13th Round). These prospects were believed to be the future of the franchise. The Mets contended that these prospects with proper acquisition of other valuable players such as, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, and Yoenis Cespedes, would allow the New York Mets to become the up-and-coming team in New York.
The turmoil, and heartbreak of the franchise leads us to 2015. With a playoff rotation led by Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz, along with positional players David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, and Daniel Murphy, the Mets are in sight of a their first World Series Championship since 1986. The New York Mets not only have a National League Championship team this year, but have the opportunity to have a perennial championship team for years to come. Furthermore, the effects of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme will be ending soon, and financial gains could be had in the near future. The journey of the New York Mets from rags to riches is a journey of legal issues and perseverance, and all involved should reap the benefits.