The New York Yankees have owned the baseball market in New York City for the past quarter decade. Their five World Championships to their crosstown rival New York Mets’ none says it all. The Yankees are approximately worth twice as much as the Mets as a result ($4.6 billion to $2.3 billion) but that should Â be changing now that billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has agreed to buy controlling interest in the Mets from the Wilpons.
Cohen grew up a Mets fan (not a Dodgers fans like Fred Wilpon) in Great Neck and won’t sit idly by while the top free agents land in the Bronx, Boston, L.A. and other destinations. The Wilpons’ financial troubles (see: Madoff) have been well documented and without question have precluded them from acting as a major market franchise.
A person who had seen the email expects Cohenâ€™s financial influence to be felt immediately, saying, â€œHe grew up a Mets fan [in Great Neck]. He went to games in the Polo Grounds. He has deep pockets. He is a passionate fan. If I were a Met fan, I would expect that means more money [for payroll].â€
He who controls the purse strings controls the kingdom â€” not someone with titles. And if Cohen is approved by the other owners â€” likely but no slam dunk because of his past ties to insider trading â€” he will control the purse strings.
There are no guarantees how someone will run a team and whether they will be a good owner or a bad owner once they actually are in charge. But what would shock â€” absolutely shock â€” those spoken to in the aftermath of the news that Cohen is intending to go from a minority Met owner to owning 80 percent or more of the team is that he will squeeze pennies and play to the worst of the Wilpon stereotype. The expectation is the Mets will join the Yankees and Dodgers and Red Sox among the major league payroll leaders, perhaps not in 2020, but soon.
Of course, money doesn’t always equate to happiness but it doesn’t hurt. It will all depend on who is making the baseball decisions. There has been no rumblings on whether the front office will be affected in the near future but you can bet the Mets will become a proactive organization under Cohen, not a reactive one.