Update, October 30: Hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen on Friday received the necessary 75 percent approval of Major League Baseball owners, paving his way to take ownership of the New York Mets. Cohen paid $2.4 billion for the team. He needs the approval of New York City's mayor, but that appears to be a formality.
Here's a column from August on what it all means for the Phillies.
• • •
Woke up to this text message early Saturday morning:
Oh, happy day!
It was from a buddy who is a Mets fan and a good guy nonetheless.
He tapped out the text the morning after learning that his favorite team was on the verge of being purchased by hedge-fund honcho Steve Cohen.
If my buddy had waited until he’d had a couple of cups of coffee before composing his text message, it might have read this way:
We’re about to become a real b---- in the NL East!
It’s hard to argue with that possibility. If this Cohen guy gains control of the Mets, they could become a real, um, beast.
And that’s not necessarily good news for the Philllies. Or the Braves. Or the Nationals. Or the Marlins.
Or even the crosstown Yankees for the matter.
Cohen grew up in Queens. He’s a huge Mets fan. Maybe bigger than Seinfeld. He was educated at Penn. He’s worth $14 billion.
Meeting the Mets’ $2 billion-plus asking price won’t be an issue for Cohen. He won exclusive negotiating rights on Friday, beating out two notable groups, one led by the glam couple of Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, the other led by Joshua Harris and David Blitzer, who own the 76ers.
Cohen, who already owns a small piece of the Mets, still has hurdles to clear before he gains full control of the club. He comes with some fine print — one of the companies he founded was once hit with $1.8 billion in fines for insider trading — so getting the 23 yes votes needed from other owners to gain admittance into the exclusive club of MLB ownership is not a slam dunk.
“We shall see,” said one person in the know.
But money talks and Cohen has been relentless in his pursuit to own the Mets. He can blow the other groups out of the water with his mine’s-bigger-than-yours bankroll. It’s difficult to see him being denied. And, besides, does MLB really want A-Rod, a man who built his fortune by cheating the game, owning a club?
If Cohen gets the team, he will immediately become the game’s wealthiest owner. And the team will not be just some hood ornament in his portfolio. Remember, he bleeds Mets blue and orange. He’ll be in it to win and he’ll do what it takes to do that.
Under the unpopular and financially strapped Wilpon family, the Mets have carried middle-of-the-road payrolls for much of the last decade. That would change under Cohen. The Mets will again bid for the best players in the game as well as for attention on the back pages of New York tabloids. That attention is a barometer for who owns the baseball scene in the biggest and most important market in the country, the Mets or Yankees.
Two hours down the turnpike, Cohen will surely get the attention of the Phillies, who themselves are no small-market team. He wants the same bleeping trophy that the Phillies do. For fans, like my text buddy, it could be pretty exciting as the two teams’ sometimes-hot, more-often-times-cold rivalry heats up again.
It might not take long for Cohen to become a thorn in the Phillies’ side. The Mets have significant payroll coming off the books this winter and a big need behind the plate. Cohen could really announce his arrival with a big play for J.T. Realmuto.
Everything we hear about Realmuto is that he wants to stay in Philadelphia and if that doesn’t work out, one of the Texas teams or Atlanta would be attractive to him.
But, remember, he’s looking to set records and raise the bar on catchers' salaries. The Mets, under Cohen, would have the wherewithal to make that happen.
Oh, happy day!
It all depends on your perspective, buddy.
Subscribe to the Phillies Talk podcast: