Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen officially sealed the deal and bought the Mets Friday. Fans who have stayed true to the orange and blue say they’re finally optimistic about the future of their beloved ball club.
“When President Nixon announced that the US was finally getting out of Vietnam, a New York radio station played ‘Morning Has Broken’ by Cat Stevens,” said Greg Prince, author and creator of Mets website Fear and Faith in Flushing.
Cohen taking control from the hapless Wilpons is kind of like that, Prince said.
“The darkness that has clouded anything we looked forward to as Mets fans is dissipating at last,” he said. “We can see the light. We don’t know what Met life will be like with Steve Cohen calling the shots and writing the checks, but we knew what it was like with the Wilpons. We’re ready to try something different.”
A majority of Major League Baseball owners officially approved the Cohen purchase Oct. 30. He had to wait another week to formally take control from longtime owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.
Cohen, a lifelong Mets fan from Nassa County, has plenty of work to do to get the team back to a World Series contender. The lineup is strong and the club boasts baseball’s best starting pitcher in ace Jacob DeGrom, but the bullpen, defense and the rest of the staff need some work.
The Mets finished tied for last-place in the National League East at 26-34 in the COVID-shortened season.
Allison McCague, a Mets fan and blogger for another popular Mets site, Amazin’ Avenue, said she is hopeful, but she’s tempering her expectations for a man whose hedge fund was forced to pay a record penalty to the Securities and Exchange Commission for insider trading.
“I do think anyone expecting Steve Cohen to swoop in and be a savior is foolish because we don’t really know for sure exactly what type of owner he’ll be,” she said. “And there are really no Angels among MLB ownership groups.”
“You don’t get that rich without being a bit of a ghoul, quite frankly,” she said. “That said, I think the source of joy among fans is really being rid of the devil they know in the Wilpons. It’s about no longer being the laughing stock of the league.”
Fans hope Cohen, now the wealthiest majority owner in the sport, will end the team’s financial woes. The Wilpons’ finances were hurt by their investments in Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.
McCague said the Wilpons made matters worse by meddling in the work of running the team — something better left to the experts.
“It wasn’t just the lack of spending post-Madoff,” she said. “It was about how they fancied themselves baseball men and involved themselves in every single thing about the team from top to bottom. They micromanaged. And they were bad at it.”
“The team was constantly embroiled in some sort of scandal or the butt of some joke,” she added.
The hashtag #LOLMets gives a taste of the often petty shenanigans plaguing the club.
“It changes so much for the club, as Steve Cohen has the opportunity to bring instant credibility to the franchise and use his funds to transform the organization in ways the industry couldn’t possibly imagine,” he said.
Baron also said building a team isn’t just about spending money on the roster. He said he hopes Cohen can build the franchise into a consistent winner.
“It’s about reimagining the entire plane and transforming this organization culturally, functionally, and technologically from the very bottom of the minor leagues in the Dominican Republic all the way up the ladder to Citi Field,” he said.
“These vast resources they’ve suddenly been infused with enables them to finally become a cutting edge institution and establishment in the industry, and this along with being able to make any investment needed in their rosters are how championship franchises are born in sports.”
“I am honestly in disbelief that it actually happened,” added Linda Surovich, a writer for Amazin Avenue. “It seemed like this day would never come especially since they were allowed to keep the team after Madoff. We don’t know what kind of owner Cohen is going to be but at least it’ll be different and that alone is exciting.”
Maggie Wiggin, who hosts a Mets podcast at Amazin Avenue, said she is happy that the long sale process has finally ended.
“I’m just excited for the drama to move from off the field to on the field,” she said. “The team might not become the Dodgers overnight, but if there are more headlines about bringing in young, talented players and fewer about who said or did some utterly embarrassing thing, that’s a huge step up for a franchise with a ton of potential.”
Diehard fan Patrick Filosa said he is ready for the season to come.
“It’s finally our time to have a real owner who wants to spend the big bucks like the other team across the way,” Filosa said. “I believe him growing up is gonna make him have no limit on what he spends.”