As a lifelong Mets fan, I’ve been dreaming of this day for some time.
The day when Wilpons would no longer own the Mets. And that day has arrived after the owners voted to approve the sale of the Mets to billionaire Steve Cohen.
There are multiple reasons for this joy, particularly the gobs of money now available for free agents, but I’d grown tired of the dysfunction, and the meddling of ownership, particularly from Jeff Wilpon, son of Fred.
On a couple of occasions as Sports Editor of the New York Daily News, I had meetings with Jeff, and his ubiquitous band of lackeys and yes men.
One was at a hotel restaurant off Central Park West in midtown Manhattan. I can recall little from this meeting other than the $24 hamburger on the menu (are you kidding me?) and the fact Jeff and his crew were clearly prying for information as per our coverage. That and his flunkies made every question he asked sound like it was a good one.
The other time was in Jeff’s owners’ box, where I sat with him for a game vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. Not so coincidentally, Timothy Cardinal Dolan was in the box with us. He’s a Cardinals fan. Jeff spent the entire game studying his iPad that gave him launch angles and exit velos off every at bat. I later was told that then-GM Sandy Alderson had Jeff doing such to give him something to do: anything to keep him occupied and think he was a part of shit and keep his mind off fucking with anything else. There have been numerous accounts of Jeff Wilpon meddling with the team.
Here is what former co-owner Nelson Doubleday said about Jeff after he’d sold his half of the team back in 2002.
“Mr. Jeff Wilpon has decided that he’s going to learn how to run a baseball team and take over at the end of the year. Run for the hills, boys. I think probably all those baseball people will bail.”
New York Post reporter Joel Sherman wrote this about Jeff back in 2004: “He did not dispute he is in charge of the day-to-day running of just about every facet of the organization from clean bathrooms to player procurement.”
Jeff couldn’t help himself. He irritatingly infested every aspect of Met life.
And then there was the time he forced Pedro Martinez to start a game when he was hurt, saying, according to Martinez, “While I’m the boss here, you’re going to have to do what I say.”
Pedro wrote about it in his book Pedro. And let’s be honest, who is he to talk to Pedro, like that?
You can read Cohen’s statement here where he makes no mention of Jeff:
So you add the meddling to the countless moments of dysfunction and embarrassment — and I haven’t even mentioned the Madoff scandal — any other owner would be an improvement.
I will miss the nickname bequeathed to penny-pinching father Fred, that being “Fred Coupon.”
As a former tabloid headline writer, it doesn’t get any better than that.
I have to admit, I was dubious of other owners who would be in direct competition with Steve Cohen and his ridiculous checkbook approving him. If things go right for Mets fans, salaries will have to go up, right? Who’s coming to Queens without getting blown away by a deal?
Cohen will join Tigers owner Marian Ilitch as the richest in baseball with $10.1B. The Ilitch family, owners of Little Caesars Pizza, have seen a growth in their income due to increased delivery orders during a pandemic to the tune of $1.3B. That’s comforting.
It will be interesting to see how much of Cohen’s money will be spent on players. There’s no question that’s what’s expected. Cohen has already shown what his cash can do by reversing salary cuts made due to the pandemic. Put on sports talk radio in the tri-state area and that’s what you’ll hear, Met fans salivating all over their handhelds. The New York Post reported that Cohen has told friends he expects to lose roughly $400M over the next two years.
Someone better school Cohen on the Worst Team Money Can Buy Mets so he doesn’t lose his shit next July screaming, “Who the fuck is Bobby Bonilla?!?” after looking at the payroll that month.
This offseason’s free agent market looks weak, to say the least. Will they look to add a Trevor Bauer to the rotation? Or finally land catcher J.T. Realmuto to handle the staff? The team has already let Wilson Ramos go.
Things get better a year from now when Nolan Arenado could hit the market, as do Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.
Or, and hope you Yankee fans are sitting down, might he be setting his sights on the 2022 offseason when Aaron Judge becomes a free agent?
Is that when you might see Cohen, a lifelong Mets fan who has seen his team play second fiddle to the Yankees, declare war with the Bronx?
Think about Arenado and Judge joining Pete Alonso in the middle of the lineup. Mets fans are already reaching for the coconut oil just thinking about it.
That’s what Met fans want to see. We’ve watched the Yankees run roughshod over this town for decades. Cohen is old enough to remember when NYC was a Mets town, back in those halcyon days in the middle ’80s.
He’s bought the team, and cleaned out the mess that had been the Wilpons. Now he has to spend the money.