Steve Cohen is worth $ 14 billion. This makes him a very unlikely candidate to gain recognition as “people’s choice”. But then we talk about the New York Mets. And as Cohen, a lifelong fan, can certainly explain: Mets are always a little different. In almost every way.
And now, in anticipation of one last hurdle, they are about to have as owner the most popular billionaire in New York City. Go figure.
“I’m thrilled to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to buy the New York Mets,” was Cohen’s simple 20-word statement released through the team Monday afternoon. It covers a roller coaster for Mets fans who saw Cohen go from safety to completely out of the bidding, then back and finally to where we sit now, where Cohen only needs 23 of baseball̵
Mets fans have not been so happy since Marty Barrett swung through a Jesse Orosco fastball on the evening of October 27, 1986. The Mets won their second world series that night and stood on top of the baseball world – but for many Mets fans, that team and that time symbolized something else: the one time the meters were like one with the city’s swagger.
The Mets’ previous championship, in 1969, had been a paradox, a good team and a better fortune. It’s hard to conjure up something that represents New York City as an underdog, but these Mets were. And in many ways, it’s the good Mets teams that have followed – in 1999 and 2000, in 2006, in 2015. Much of it was the resurgence of the Yankees after the late ’80s, where a claim to the city’s baseball soul held strong for close to 30 years; they cast a huge shadow.
But much of this was weak ownership, reluctant to spend dollar-for-dollar with the Yankees, hampered by its affiliation with Bernie Madoff, very unpopular with much of its constituency. No one likes being a little brother in sports. The Mets have been little brother for more than a generation and traded as part.
Not anymore. Not with Cohen. And that’s what brings the spirit of the Mets fans to life now. Yes, he’s worth $ 14 billion, and as Forbes pointed out, the next three richest baseball owners – Ted Lerner (Nationals), Christopher Ilitch (Tigers) and Greg Johnson (Giants) – are worth a total of $ 13.1 billion. . And Cohen will definitely benefit from it.
But what Cohen represents just as much for Mets fans is an attitude. He’s one of them. And all you have to do is look at his career: he hates losing. It’s an anathema to him. And that makes him even more one of them.
And that’s the attitude that made him more attractive to Mets fans than the marriage between Sports and Side Six that J-Rod would have been, and certainly more than the plentiful number of guys who own the Devils. This is what Mets fans have been wanting. And that’s what they’re getting now.
And look: what made George Steinbrenner Steinbrenner was not just deep pockets – in fact, he did not invest most of his own money in the beginning. It was his willingness to own the Yankees in his best days, as an avid fan perhaps: needed Reggie Jackson. Jump into free agency with both feet. Fighting opposing fans in elevators (let’s assume the story was true. It’s a better world if it were).
The money also helped as Cohen’s money will help. But the foundation of the Bronx was built with swagger. It is easy to imagine that a similar drawing would also occur in Queens now. And easier to see why it makes Mets fans smile this morning.