New NY Mets owner Steve Cohen has quickly ingratiated himself with fans. It says something about other owners that it was so easy. How can teams like the SF Giants learn from his statements?
On Tuesday, NY Mets owner Steven Cohen, who purchased the team from the Wilpon family for roughly $2.4 billion last month, held his introductory press conference. His answers had Mets Twitter ablaze with excitement. He declared that he’s “All in” and that he’d be “slightly disappointed” if they did not win a World Series in 3 to 5 years.
Let’s make one thing clear. Cohen is not a hero. The billionaire hedge-fund manager has a long track record of nefarious financial crimes. During a 1989 divorce, he hid $5.5 million from his then-wife and co-founded a venture capital company that was accused of the largest criminal insider-trading crimes in the United States history.
The positive response to Cohen’s comments illuminates less about him and more about how far the bar for owners in professional sports, especially Major League Baseball, has fallen. If an owner just acts like they want to win and appears to care, as Cohen did, it stands out from the crowd.
Cohen obviously benefits from taking over one of the most ill-managed franchises in MLB. The Wilpon family was consistently incompetent, cheap, and distant from the Mets operations. There may have been no larger tone shift from a team’s ownership in league history. In just a couple of weeks, Cohen has built more trust with his fanbase than the previous ownership group did in the past two decades.
Time will tell whether he follows through on his promises. It’s worth noting, the early returns have been quite positive. Almost immediately after taking over, Cohen undid employee salary cuts forced into effect during the COVID-19 pandemic and committed $2.85 million to Mets field staff and stadium employees who lost work without fans in attendance this season.
While Mets fans are paying closest attention, some of Cohen’s comments and recent moves could strike a chord with many SF Giants fans. In the last month, the Giants laid off 10% of their full-time employees after plurality owner Charles B. Johnson had spent over $11 million on contributions to politicians.
These things do not just matter to fans though. Following Cohen’s interview, according to Sandy Alderson, one MLB player called their agent to ask him to call the Mets to see if they were interested in his services.
Fans value cheering for good organizations. Steve Cohen’s prioritization of NY Mets fans and employees since purchasing the team has made it easier for fans to cheer for the team. Here’s to hoping the SF Giants and more franchises follow suit soon.