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Monday, July 21, 2003
Former co-owner pokes fun at Mets' struggles

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Eleven months ago, Nelson Doubleday cut ties with the Mets by completing the sale of his half of the team to co-owner Fred Wilpon. Although he still refers to the franchise as "we," it appears Doubleday is glad he's no longer aboard for the ride.

"I think it's been awful out there," Doubleday said for a story published in the Newark Star-Ledger on Monday. "I don't want to fire shells at somebody, but we're 22 games out. It's so close that it gets you nervous. We might fall into a minor league. We might not even make it into Triple-A."

We might fall into a minor league.
Nelson Doubleday

The last-place Mets are actually 25 games out of first after Sunday's collapse against first-place Atlanta. New York's struggles have been magnified in the last month following the trades of second baseman Roberto Alomar, outfielder Jeromy Burnitz and closer Armando Benitez for prospects.

Their low point may have been Sunday night, when the Mets blew a five-run, eighth-inning lead and lost to the Braves 11-8. The Mets were swept in four to fall to 40-57, and they easily could finish with the worst record in the NL.

Doubleday especially had some harsh words for Jeff Wilpon, Fred's son, who is heavily involved in the daily operation of the franchise.

"Mr. Jeff Wilpon has decided that he's going to learn how to run a baseball team and take over at the end of the year," Doubleday told the newspaper. "Run for the hills, boys. I think probably all those baseball people will bail."

In fact, Doubleday still owns box seats at Shea Stadium, but apparently does not attend games partly due to the presence of the younger Wilpon.

"Jeff sits there by himself like he's King Tut waiting for his camel," Doubleday told the paper. "Hump one. Hump two. They like that, two for the price of one."

Doubleday also criticized the Mets for how they handled the Mike Piazza situation. The Mets want Piazza to learn to play first base to ease the physical workload of his catching duties.

"I like the skill and finesse with which they told Mike he is going to be a first baseman," Doubleday told the paper. "That's like an oversized truck trying to get through the Midtown Tunnel. 'Here's your hat. What's your hurry?' "

Doubleday left very few of the Mets unscathed in his remarks to the Star-Ledger.

  • On Mo Vaughn, who's out with a serious, possible career-ending knee injury: "They made him lose weight so they didn't have to feed him so much in the team lunch basket."

  • On Tom Glavine, who has struggled after signing a $35 million, three-year contract during the offseason: "Somebody ought to check his record in the second half of last season."

  • On 42-year-old reliever John Franco, who recently returned from major elbow surgery: "There's a great pitcher. The other night, it didn't look like he could throw it through the hole in a life preserver. But he's from Brooklyn! Watch out! He goes home to Ebbets Field every night. He takes a ride on the Cyclone."