As Steve Cohen inches closer to purchasing the Mets, it’s time for Mets fans to ask if the team is merely another toy to own – or something more passionate?
Will Steve Cohen bring the same level of passion to the New York Mets and their fans as he had in building a wildly successful financial empire as a hedge fund manager?
The question is crucial as the light passing over Fred and his equally inept son, Jeff Wilpon dims.
While this brings a ray of hope to Mets fans, who have long suffered the indignities brought on by their penchant to micromanage the franchise ineptly, the fear is justified – is the new boss is the same as the old boss.
Who is Steve Cohen, and what is the brand he will establish as the owner of the Mets?
On the surface, we’re looking at a swash-buckling caricature of a man who is used to doing things his way. He speaks, and his underlings say, “Yes, sir. Anything else?”. Donald Trumpish, if you will.
In the world of baseball, though, the parallel comes nearer to George Steinbrenner, the most hated and beloved man in baseball during his time.
The Wilpons always mouthed the words as though they genuinely cared whether the Mets won or lost. But Mets fans saw through it, and if Steve Cohen tries the same act, the culture of the organization is doomed to continuing failure and disillusionment.
Mets fans, whether through blind loyalty or saintly patience, have never given up on the players occupying the clubhouse. Most years, and indeed this year, the talent is there to win.
Steve Cohen – The Ideal Team Owner
More significantly, what we saw during the second half of the 2019 season embodies a team makeup that is capable of blocking out the noise, and taking control of a bad situation themselves – despite the dysfunction at the top.
Let the players play. Is that in Steve Cohen’s DNA? Mets fans can only hope it is.
Is Cohen the owner who will sit down with his general manager after a World Series, win or lose, to ask a straightforward question. “What do we need to do this offseason to improve, and how much will it cost me”?
Then, without blinking, “Okay, here’s your budget. Spend it as, and your team sees fit”.
Relationships take time to develop, and the best ones take the most time. The team of Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman works with success because each is the other’s alter-ego.
Cashman has learned over the years when to press for something he wants (landing Gerrit Cole) and when to back off, leaving the fight for another day.
This is a portrait of Steve Cohen as the ideal owner of the Mets. But does it “fit” the man?
Steve Cohen: Deja Vu All Over Again
For Mets fans and New York baseball, an emergence of Steve Cohen as the second coming of Fred Wilpon is the worst possible outcome of a team sale.
The trouble is that instinct suggests that very possibility.
You don’t make $14 billion while behaving like a nice guy, especially in the cut-throat world of finance. You cajole, bully, and convince.
And above all else, you keep your fingers in every pot (micromanaging).
Cohen’s person is seen in other transparent ways, like the assembly of toys he collects.
Among these is a 14-foot shark preserved in formaldehyde, a work by Damien Hirst that cost him about $8 million. Cohen Greenwich, CT mansion, has a 6,734 square-foot ice skating rink, complete with a Zamboni and its storage cottage.
A few miles away, Cohen also owns two East Hampton homes, worth $18 million and $60 million.
Thus, the question. Will the Mets be added to Steve Cohen’s toys, left to be as an afterthought that feeds and ever-expanding ego, requiring more than an occasional “dusting” as though the Mets are part of his Picasso collection?
MLB: The Power To Advise And Consent
Major League Baseball has the power to approve or disapprove the sale of the Mets.
In rare cases, that power is exercised to rid baseball of owners deemed as a negative influence on the sport.
In 2011, with the urging of MLB, owner Frank McCourt reached an agreement with Major League Baseball on Tuesday night to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers, along with Dodger Stadium and the surrounding real estate.
That dispute was mainly tied to a wild, though entertaining, public divorce waged by the McCourts. Judged to be an embarrassment to baseball, MLB (as they say) made the duo an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Unfortunately, Steve Cohen will be judged mainly by whether or not he is a financial liability to baseball and his fellow owners – instead of the question – is he good for baseball and the Mets.
Speculate, we can. But as with an election, the campaign goes away when the results are tabulated – and you can never be sure what you are getting until the person is on the job.