(until recently,  I would not have guessed “sell flowers by the side of the road”)

The Mets’ Grapefruit League schedule kicks off tomorrow against Atlanta, and fans in attendance at Digital Domain Park might be asked to return any foul balls they’ve caught. While the Amazins’ dire financial straits have made headlines of late, until today it wasn’t previously known that last Autumn, Major League Baseball lent the club $25 million in order to pay operating expenses.  From the New York Daily News’ Terri Thompson and Nathaniel Vinton :

The loan is expected to be repaid within months, according to sources familiar with the transaction.

When contacted by the Daily News Friday, the Mets declined to comment on the loan and issued a statement.

“We said in October that we expected to have a short-term liquidity issue. To address this, we did receive a loan from Major League Baseball in November,” the statement read. “Beyond that, we will not discuss the matter any further.”

The Mets are not the only team to have turned to MLB for help in recent months. The Texas Rangers received a loan of $21.5 million from baseball to help keep the club afloat during bankruptcy proceedings last year. The Rangers were later sold to a group headed by pitching legend Nolan Ryan.

As Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra notes, prior to bankruptcy, Tom Hicks had claimed he was seeking a minority investor for the Rangers.  If you think that sounds scary/familiar, consider the mindset of Jeff Wilpon, reduced to placing the following advertisement.