Steve Cohen is counting on his oversized wad of cash to do all the talking for him in his bid to buy the Mets. Not so fast, though, it’s not that simple.
Steve Cohen may sleep well at night in knowing no one person or group, currently in the arena, can outbid him in his quest to purchase the New York Mets.
Cohen’s bid of $2 billion is still believed to be the highest one received, and the process has already moved into the second phase. Heavyweights like the so-called mystery bidder, Sheldon Adelson, whose personal worth at $30 billion exceeds even that of Cohen’s, has said no thanks, I’m not interested.
But it’s not the consortium of Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, plus whatever array of nickel-and-diming NBA and NFL stars they can put together, or the group led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer (photo right) that needs Steve Cohen’s attention.
Instead, the group with the real power are the current owners of major league franchises. These are the ones who will say yea or nay to Steve Cohen before he allowed to become a member in their exclusive club – no matter how much he throws in the pot.
Cohen may also be banking heavily on the fact that he did win approval from MLB during the Wilpon’s ill-fated attempt to seek the Mets in the early part of 2020.
But he would be remiss in that regard because as word spread about the offensive and ridiculous demands, Fred Wilpon was making – like insisting his son Jeff maintain control of the team for five years after the sale only showed the whole exercise was a mission in tire-kicking by Fred Wilpon and his partner, Saul Katz.
Hard to believe it was overlooked at the time, but the financial dealings of Steve Cohen never seemed to come under the scrutiny of team owners. Again, perhaps that was due to their belief the sale was going nowhere fast anyway.
Ironically, though, Cohen was involved in another team sale (Los Angeles Dodgers) in 2011 in which he was not approved by MLB owners, even though he had submitted the highest bid.
It was Commissioner Bud Selig who intervened, pushing the sale away from Cohen and successfully to the Guggenheim family.
So right there, that tells us something about the power that Rob Manfred can assert in the Mets sale if he chooses to do so.
Steve Cohen: Bad Boy, Bad Boy
But the facts are that, in 2013, Steve Cohen’s firm, SAC Capital Advisors, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of insider trading and fraud before agreeing to pay $1.8 billion in fines for their malpractice. In the wake of that investigation, the world also learned of SAC’s toxic work culture amid reports of extremely disturbing workplace sexual harassment. (Source: New York State Senator Jessica Ramos)
Lord knows baseball has had its share of bad and character challenged owners. Marge Schott, who owned the Cincinnati Reds for 15 years (1984-1999), was known as an avowed racist who also was a big fan of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party.
And who can forget the well-meaning attempts by Bill Veeck to arouse fan interest by, for example, sending a dwarf up to the plate to bat in a game? This, while many cringed at the thought of baseball becoming a circus.
And, of course, there are the Wilpons themselves who thought it was a good idea to invest a good piece of change with their buddy Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme, only to be “caught” and fined $300 million.
MLB Owners: Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf
But for owners, this goes deeper than Steve Cohen’s character and actions as a financier.
The real worry of MLB owners is that, with his billions, Cohen might very well engage in a spending war on players that will drive salaries up for each of them – making George Steinbrenner look like a penny-pincher.
Mets fans, of course, have a different take on their concern, and they have visions of a power-packed All-Star team of their own residing at Citi Field – where playoff appearances and world titles will become a ho-hum exercise every year – just like the Yankees.
Nevertheless, the numbers still favor Cohen when owners’ votes are tabulated.
For Cohen to not be approved, nine teams need to say no (I researched but could not find if Fred Wilpon is allowed to vote). Presently, there does not appear to be a “move” in the making to block Steve Cohen.
And probably, the reason for that is these owners are mainly concerned with protecting the value of the franchise they own. As long as the sale of the Mets is $2 billion (though preferably closer to their current value of $2.4 billion), they’re fine – and ditto MLB as a whole.
Steve Steinbrenner Cohen – What Are The Chances
I’d take the overs on that one and say that MLB owners have every right to be concerned about Cohen seeing himself as the next “Boss” of a team in New York.
Cohen’s pockets are deeper than Steinbrenner’s ever was during his reign with the Yankees.
And like Steinbrenner, Steve Cohen will have no qualms about reaching deeper to spend his own money to ensure there will be parades down Broadway celebrating the Mets – and of course, Steve Cohen.
Or so it would seem.
Because as we know, money can’t buy championships, and more significantly, as George Steinbrenner learned, it can’t buy love. What remains to be seen is – can it alone buy a team?