But where most owners have recently distinguished themselves through their huffily John Galtian militancy and vicious avarice, the Wilpons are playing a different and goofier game, spinning cascading failure, proud delusion, and unrelenting and imperturbable clownishness into what’s less a standard Shitty Owner Ruins Team story and more like a strange, sprawling satirical novel.
There isn’t an author who could write it, but you’d come closest if you asked Don DeLillo to write one of his recent Awful Rich Men Fail Greatly novels and then had Sam Lipsyte go back over it, rewriting all the characters so that they are callow, childish, and comically hapless. The Wilpons got caught up in Bernie Madoff’s labyrinthine Ponzi scheme—that’s the DeLillo part—and then proceeded to leverage and releverage the team in order to stay tenuously afloat, denying all the while that they were doing so, and making the situation catastrophically and hilariously worse in so doing; the Wilpons have an estimated $900 million of debt due in 2014–15, and are commonly understood to have virtually no money. That’s the Lipsyte part. It’s hard to know who would write the bit about the Mets putting a storefront/recruiting center for the disgraced pyramid-scheming corpo-cult Amway in their stadium. It is, honestly, a bit much. A good author would cut it, citing implausibility.
Cheering for a shitty team is easy—anyone can do it, and it’s one of the few tasks that becomes easier the drunker you get. Cheering for a team that ruthlessly and relentlessly satirizes itself in broad and livid strokes is somewhat more challenging. It’s still preferable to the alternative, given that the alternative is cheering for the Yankees. But some kinds of uniqueness are more appealing than others, and satire gets progressively more difficult to laugh at the better it gets.
Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:48 PM | 62 comment(s)
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