Steve Cohen and his extra hurdle to purchase the Mets

We saw a little preview of the upcoming CBA negotiations with the scuffle between players and owners regarding how the 2020 season would play out. And now we hear of another issue being potentially impacted by a looming labor crisis. In Thursday’s New York Post article by Josh Kosman and Thornton McEnery giving an update on the sale of the Mets, there was an ominous close to the piece. Here’s the final sentence:

The owners will want someone they can trust to help in their upcoming collective bargaining talks with the players, a source said.

There have been a few constants in the history of labor battles in MLB, even beyond the obvious one of owners trying to give the players the shortest stick imaginable. One of these is that while owners think they’ll be able to achieve their goals by dividing the players, the reality is that owners are always, always more of a fractured group.

You can find many examples of this but perhaps the best Mets-related one is back when Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon were co-owners, they backed different horses when it came to who would lead the owners in the future. Doubleday supported then-current Commissioner Fay Vincent while Wilpon aligned with then-Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig.

Unfortunately, Wilpon chose well.

Selig eventually became commissioner and Wilpon was repaid for his early loyalty at least twice. The first was when Doubleday decided to cash out. Selig helped Wilpon establish a “market value” for the franchise that any neutral observer would say undervalued the club tremendously. And the other obvious benefit came during the Madoff scandal, when Selig not only didn’t pressure Wilpon, he also extended his pal a loan from the central fund that seemingly came with an open ended repayment date.

Selig was an owner longer than Wilpon but essentially both were the “new guard” of owners, with neither being the traditional movers and shakers like the O’Malleys or the Busches. Selig was a hawk on labor issues and clearly was a big reason for the stoppages of ‘94-’95. But the sport enjoyed labor peace for nearly 25 years after that. It’s amazing how détente was achieved once Selig himself stopped sowing unrest.

We don’t have Selig to kick around anymore but we have one of his main hires in Rob Manfred. Meet the new boss – same as the old boss. And soon we won’t have Wilpon, either. But it sure sounds like MLB is plotting to replace Wilpon with someone who will be just as loyal and toe the official party line that the commissioner creates.

The Kosman and McEnery piece certainly made it sound like it would be tougher for Steve Cohen to become the new owner than others involved in the bidding. Here’s what they said about Cohen:

The question remains whether he can be approved to buy the Mets by the necessary three-quarters of MLB owners.

Soon the Wilpons, working with their adviser Allen & Co., are expected to poll MLB owners to see how comfortable they are approving Cohen, sources said.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in February took the Wilpons’ side when talks with Cohen fell apart, saying, “The assertion that the transaction fell apart because of something the Wilpons did is completely and utterly unfair.”

We’re not privy to all of the details about how the original transaction between Wilpon and Cohen fell apart. No one should view it that Wilpon was 100% wrong and Cohen 100% right. But it sure sounds like MLB is putting the overwhelming percentage of blame on Cohen’s shoulders. And why would MLB do this?

Essentially, they want Cohen to kiss Manfred’s ring before they’ll allow him into the club.

Maybe it’s naïve of me to think that whoever becomes the Mets’ new owner should be loyal to the New York Mets and their fans rather than MLB. Clearly, that’s not the way this is going to play out. Perhaps the only question that matters is if Cohen – or whoever ends up as the new owner – can say all of the right things during the courtship but when push comes to shove be his own man once he’s approved.

Wilpon was involved in Mets ownership at varying levels for 40 years, which is impressive. What’s less impressive is how he actually ran the club, especially once he became sole owner. In addition to the post-Madoff shoestring budgets, there was the nepotism factor with giving his son Jeff such a prominent role in the club, despite him rarely, if ever, showing any aptitude for the job. And perhaps most damning was how he was always just a puppet for Selig.

Here’s hoping the new owner legitimately has deep pockets, has no incompetent offspring and will be a strong and independent advocate for what’s best for the New York Mets.

12 comments for “Steve Cohen and his extra hurdle to purchase the Mets

  1. JImO
    July 10, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    I am personally rooting for Mr. Cohen. It will be a franchise-changing event: “It won’t matter where the Mets have been; it will only matter where they are Cohen”.

  2. Rich
    July 10, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Charlie Gasparino says that approval by the owners will not be an issue. If anything, Arods group, being so large, is more likely to have problems because the other owners dont want chaos.

    Remember, the news being put out there right now are what the insiders are giving their reporters. Note how it’s not Davidoff and Sherman, it’s the financial guys. They are using the press to get the news they want out there.

    There was news last night about Wilpon preferring to sell to Arod over Cohen unless the offer was substantially better. One piece I read said Grifter Fred made the comment another that Grifter Jr. Said it. Thats the Grifter Duo trying to build the price up.

    I think with this thing being so public now, Cohen has to win. He knows he is considered a hero to Met fans and he didnt get to $15 billion by not wanting to win. He’s the only one who really has the necessary money and hes already on the inside as a minority owner and can see the bids.

    Knowing the Grifter Wilpons like we do should make us nervous. They are stupid, disgusting people yes, but they also always seem to make the wrong deal. Heck, they are already way short of what they had in January and they have painted themselves into a corner because they cant afford to keep going now.

    Cohen will get the team.

    • July 10, 2020 at 4:19 pm

      Anyone who remembers the early 2000s sales of the Red Sox-Marlins-Expos recognizes that MLB picks the winner, not the highest bidder. They even screwed charities in the process by taking lower bids. It was disgraceful.

  3. July 10, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    My expectation is that whoever buys the Mets will have the money to run it like a large market club. And whoever the new guy is, they’ll have warts that if we don’t know already, we’ll find out as the years go by.

  4. July 10, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    Get me Mookie Betts!

    • royhobbs7
      July 10, 2020 at 4:05 pm

      Betts & Realmuto!

      • July 10, 2020 at 8:55 pm

        I’d be wary giving a catcher in his 30’s a long term deal I’d just wait on Alvarez

  5. TJ
    July 10, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    Met fans love Cohen because his is rich and he isn’t the Wilpons. That is fine by me, although we realize Mr. Cohen has his skeletons, and Manfred is leery. These owners are as cliquish as it gets, but looking beyond my selfish Met fan POV, the league can really use a NY NL franchise that acts like a NY franchise.

  6. Al Pagan
    July 11, 2020 at 10:07 am

    It is time for Mr Wilpon to move on and out and sell the NY Mets to a die heart Met fan, Steve Cohen.
    He has been a minority owner for years and knows the needs and wants of the club. He is a native New Yorker and knows that we, New Yorkers love winners. This is especially true with Met fans. Every year on paper the Mets look like a potential competitive team but the lack of Ownership leadership and financial commitment, the club has been nothing more than a club and not a team holding the rest of the league up. Steve Cohen will and should be committed due to his internal operation (What is needed) of the organization and his external relationship with both fans and players alike. On the premise that he is a minority owner tells you his true heart felt interest in being the real majority owner of the Mets.
    It’s time for baseball to have an owner that has a true heart felt love, passion and interest in the team and it’s fan base as Mr Cohen has displayed.
    May the league owners and the commissioner approve Steve Cohen bid to purchase the Mets in the best interest of New York baseball, it’s fans and not just for the interest of money and favors.
    Goodbye Mr Fred Wilpon and welcome Mr Steve Cohen.

  7. July 11, 2020 at 10:29 am

    All Mets fans should be rooting for S.Cohen. A true Mets fan from Great Neck that came to be a huge success story. No one can top him bid wise, certainly not ALO, JROD, or whatever you want to call them, that would be a farce if they became Mets owners. You say S.Cohen has skeletons? Ok, we all have some. He got fined and paid his debt, period. I can only imagine how much extra he has been scrutinized by his industry since and nothing else has come down about him. If anyone thinks all MLB owners are squeaky clean individuals,well, think again. Cohen, besides his $, which is the 1st thing people think of, will bring leadership and accountability throughout the organization. This organization has lacked these attributes since forever, whereas their crosstown rival Yankees have seemingly always had this . Let’s go Mets and let’s go S. Cohen !!

  8. Metsense
    July 11, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Steve Cohen has deep pockets. He has an estimated net worth of $14.1 billion.Steve Cohen is known for often overpaying for art and owns one of the world’s most valuable private art collections. He had a passion of art and a passion for the Mets.This should make Met fans happy.
    He wasn’t born rich and he settled a SEC civil case of insiders trading and that might make it difficult to clear this hurdle to enter this rich boys club.He has a foot in the door by being a minority owner of the Mets.His willingness to spend some of his $14.1B to improve a MLB flagship franchise in a major market bodes well to the other owners.

    • July 11, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      That assumes that other teams want a strong franchise in New York. It’s quite possible that the other owners are quite content to have an under-capitalized ownership in the country’s biggest market to help keep salaries down.

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