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The feuding between New York Mets co-owners Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday escalated Thursday when the former filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the latter, giving Major League Baseball another black eye as a possible players’ strike looms and two teams are believed to be on the financial brink. In a lawsuit filed in federal court, Wilpon accuses Doubleday of breaching his contract to sell his portion of the team back to Wilpon for $138 million. Doubleday thinks the $391 million for which the team was appraised recently is too low. The appraisers based that value on what a buyer would have to pay, including debt. Under that scenario, Doubleday would be selling his 50 percent portion of the team for $138 million, excluding debt. Doubleday backed out of the deal and announced that he intended to file his own lawsuit against Wilpon. Wilpon’s suit asks that Doubleday honor the binding decision of an independent appraiser who set the $391 million value for the franchise. Doubleday initiated a put procedure in October which obligated him to sell his portion of the team back to Wilpon. Terms of the agreement called for selecting an independent appraiser to determine the value of the team. Both Mets owners approved that appraiser, Robert Starkey. He conducted an economic study during the past four months and issued his final conclusions April 15. Terms of the deal had required that the duo complete the deal by Aug. 13, or 120 days after the appraiser’s final report was submitted. Though Doubleday could not be reached for comment, he said in a statement that “in these circumstances, I was surprised and disappointed that Wilpon filed a groundless lawsuit this morning.” The suit came during a volatile week for the national pastime. Besides further talk of a strike, Commissioner Bud Selig said two teams were in dire fiscal straits. On July 9, Selig ended the All-Star Game in Milwaukee after 11 innings with the teams tied 7-7, inviting a backlash from fans and media. Doubleday and Wilpon teamed up to acquire the Mets for $80.75 million from Doubleday’s old publishing company, Doubleday & Co., in 1986. Bertelsmann AG divested the team as part of its $475 million buyout of the publishing house. Copyright �2002 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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