After close to four decades of controversial ownership that included dubious financial practices, many second-tier free agent signings, much interference with their Front Office’s work, and some foot-in-mouth comments, the Wilpon and Katz families are divesting themselves in the coming days of most of their Mets ownership.
Interestingly, news is coming out today of a speculation that Alex Rodriguez‘ final offer was leaked to Steve Cohen by one of the Mets’ bankers. Expectantly, Rodriguez feels betrayed and feels that the Wilpons and Katz preferred Cohen all the while. It is quite probable that Steve Cohen would have put up the most money, but why would the Wilpons not make Cohen reach a little deeper, outbidding Rodriguez/Lopez by a mere $50Million when $100Million was certainly possible? Although it was in he papers for weeks that Rodriguez “may” bid $2.3Billion, reports were quick to include there was room for more. So, did Cohen know the exact bid? Possibly. He is an owner of the Mets and may have called in a favor. Too, it seems that Saul Katz has been the person most influential in the selling process and he prefers Cohen. We need to remember that the Wilpons and Katzes plan to keep 5% of the team so they’d like their investment to be held by the person that can keep the team as strong as possible.
Rodriguez learned first hand a valuable lesson on how real business deals get done, via connections and back stage handshakes about further business dealings. Cohen wasn’t going to let a rookie beat him. Other reasons to prefer Cohen over the Rodriguez/Lopez team may be business but may also be emotional. Since Cohen was expected to top all offers, and he is a Mets fan, it is best to have someone who cares very deeply about the product running the show. After owning the team for 40 years, one would expect that the Mets mean a lot to the Wilpon and Katz families. After all, they are about to become fans and they like rooting for winners too! But, let’s not forget the Wilpons have had run-ins with Rodriguez in the past. There was the free agency debacle in the winter of 2000 where A-Rod’s agent Scott Boras – who never misses an opportunity to ridicule Mets practices – made a very famous comment about the Mets ownership not wanting to win when in fact the problem was the Mets declining to even counter-offer Boras’ demands of marketing, travel and clubhouse benefits for Rodriguez; Rodriguez was also a Yankee for many years and we know the Yankees make Fred Wilpon sicker than a high dollar player getting hurt; and it isn’t far-fetched to worry that Rodriguez will do to the Mets what Derek Jeter did to the Marlins, gutting the team in order to recoup some of the purchase funds that dried out the bank accounts in the short term. More reasons to pick Steve Cohen.
But, since the Wilpons and Katzes are a Capitalist’s capitalists, most importantly Steve Cohen will have the deep pockets to ultimately make a SNY sale very lucrative for the Wilpon and Katz families. The Wilpon and Katz families know that SNY will be important to Cohen and he has the money to make a very big offer for the TV station. The team of Rodriguez and Lopez would not be able to, and so by letting Cohen win and possibly sacrificing $50Million, the Wilpon/Katz families can benefit again down the road when a very rich owner wants SNY very badly, as Cohen continues to bring up in the newspapers. Hence, it just makes better business sense to make sure Cohen wins the bid and let a little go today to get a big bunch back later.
Lastly, there may be some bitterness concerning the failed sale in February, but the familiarity shared by the Wilpons for Cohen, and vice versa derived over years of common ownership, should get the Wilpons some perks when they visit Citi Field. It’s hard to expect those perks to be given by Rodriguez. So is Rodriguez right that he got shafted? He probably is. Does it matter? Unfortunately Alex, life isn’t fair and there were deeper reasons for preferring Steve Cohen. Take solace Alex that MLB is expecting to expand in the near future and teams like Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins are struggling to make money, so Rodriguez and Lopez will have other opportunities in the near future.