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How Close Were the Mets Owners and Madoff?

Monday, 13 Apr 2009 | 9:15 PM ET

Ever since the whole Bernie Madoff scandal hit, it has been hard to figure out exactly how close the owners of the New York Mets and the disgraced financier actually were.

AP

We've been told that the companies owned by Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, as well as their individual investments, lost as much as $300 million from the Ponzi scheme.

We also know that Fred Wilpon's name alone appears 22 times on Madoff's client list. And we know that Wilpon's son Jeff, the team's chief operating officer, was friends with Madoff's son, Mark, since their days attending high school.

But ESPN analyst Steve Phillips, who was broadcasting the Mets season opener in the new Citi Field on Monday night, described the relationship better than anyone else.

We almost choked on our dinner when Phillips dropped this bomb during the top of the fourth.

"I heard Bernie Madoff's name once a week every week for 13 years," said Phillips, who worked in the Mets front office from 1990 to 2003, the last six as general manager. "He was that close of friends and had a relationship with the Wilpons."

Think about how amazing that is. Here's a guy who was on the baseball side of the business and Madoff's name was so important that not a single week went by that he didn't hear of his name. How many other executives in the front offices of teams know the name of the person who their owner invests money with?

Despite the close connection, the Mets management has insisted the losses won't affect the ownership status of the club.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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