IT REALLY HAPPENED!
Mets fans can shift attention from sluggish playoff fight to future under Cohen
Mets fans, puffy-eyed and groggy, may still be waking up with a mild hangover after Monday night’s euphoric celebrations. Yes, the team is five games under .500 and two games back of a playoff spot. Sure, it’s likely the Mets will miss the postseason for the 17th time in the past 20 years. But a deeply loyal fanbase that typically nurses a seasonal sadness, like clockwork, won’t grieve this year.
Better days are ahead thanks to the next nine words: Steve Cohen persevered and, in the end, he won.
Hedge-fund fat cat Steve Cohen reached a deal on Monday to buy the Mets for the highest price ever paid for an American sports franchise.
The agreement values the team for roughly $2.4 billion, according to sources with knowledge of the transaction. Cohen is set to own 95% of the Mets, which will make him accountable to
MLB for the operations of the team.
Cohen’s reported $14 billion net worth can take the lovable losers to new heights. The 64-year-old is a mover and shaker who’s background in analytics can assemble a modern front-office with limitless resources. Cohen is a known inventor and his device-ful mind is expected to reshape the Mets for years to come.
Let’s hit the breaks for a moment. What about the owners’ vote? Cohen still needs approval from 23 of 29 MLB owners, which is expected to go his way during their annual meeting in November for one primary reason: a rising tide lifts all boats. MLB owners want Cohen to improve their overall capital and advantageously impact their franchise values.
Owners certainly prefer Cohen over an admitted cheater who warred with and sued Major League Baseball over his doping suspension.
Alex Rodriguez had an ally in Jeff Wilpon until the very end. Jeff Wilpon desperately wanted the group led by A-Rod and Jennifer Lopez to take over because the couple, unlike Cohen, would have let him have an active role in the team. Right up until Monday evening, when Sterling Partners announced Cohen would purchase the Mets, Jeff Wilpon was the one propping up A-Rod in exchange for keeping a hand in operations. The Rodriguez-Lopez group simply did not have enough money to top Cohen.
Under the original negotiations between Cohen and Sterling Equities, announced in December, Fred and Jeff Wilpon would have kept their titles and remained in control of team operations for five more years. That deal fell apart in January and Cohen officially re-entered the bidding in July.
Mets fans need not be worried about the Wilpon/Katz families retaining 5% ownership in the Mets after Cohen is the control person. Fred and Jeff Wilpon will not be involved in day-to-day operations and will have no say in anything, though it’s plausible Cohen will still allow Jeff to use the executive washroom.
It is still unclear how much debt Cohen will be inheriting from the Wilpons. The Mets were estimated to be in $90100 million in debt before the pandemic, and that number has likely doubled without ticket revenue and the expenses involved with playing baseball this year. The Wilpons are reportedly losing upwards of millions of dollars
per year, due in part to their previous involvement in Bernie Madoff ’s Ponzi scheme.
Cohen, too, has a messy past and it’s fair to wonder whether his dirtied hands will trickle into his ownership of the Mets.
He crossed the line multiple times, once by pleading guilty to insider trading with his previous hedge fund S.A.C. Capital. The firm agreed to pay nearly $2 billion and though Cohen was accused, he was never officially charged with any wrongdoing. He laid low for two years, then founded the hedge fund Point72 Asset Management, which was later accused of gender discrimination against women.
But for commissioner Rob Manfred, who represents all 30 owners, dirtied hands can always be overlooked.
“I think that a change in ownership at the Mets is an opportunity to make that franchise as strong as it can possibly be,” Manfred said Monday at an online event hosted by Hofstra University. “And I think over the long haul it’ll be something that will be good for the game.”
Cohen has the authority and cash to make the Mets, and in turn other MLB teams, the strongest they have ever been. The Mets’ current reality, clumsily pushing for one of the last playoff spots, hardly matters. It ’s just moonshine and glee from here on out.
Mets fans seem universally happy after Steve Cohen (above) agrees to deal to buy team from Wilpons, pending vote from owners that is expected in coming weeks.