Maybe it wasn't quite The Beatles playing Shea Stadium in 1965, but the New York Mets officially introduced new owner Steve Cohen last week and let's just say he became an immediate rock star. Mets fans haven't been this ecstatic since the ball rolled between Bill Buckner's legs.
Yes, part of the enthusiasm is simply saying goodbye to the bumbling Wilpon regime. While the Mets had periodic runs of success under Fred Wilpon and son Jeff after Wilpon and his Sterling Equities partners acquired full control of the team in 2002 -- a National League Championship Series appearance in 2006, a World Series trip in 2015 and a playoff spot the following season -- a string of bizarre and embarrassing episodes marked the franchise in recent years. Mostly, though, it was the losing: The Mets have had just three winning seasons in the past 12 years.
Mets fans put much of the blame on their penny-pinching owners, who were never willing to spend like a big-market franchise over the past decade after losing hundreds of millions in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Since 2012, the only year the Mets cracked the top 10 in payroll was this past season. Enter the league's richest owner. Cohen is worth an estimated $14.5 billion -- give or take a few million depending on the time of day. His net worth is higher than the next three richest owners combined.
So imagine the reaction when Cohen said during his introductory Zoom call that the Mets are a "major-market team and should have a budget commensurate with that." He added that, "I am not in this to be mediocre. I want to be something great."
He spoke about enhancing the organization's analytics. He said all the things an owner should say. Sandy Alderson, the team's former general manager and now the team president, put it similarly: "We can now emphasize the acquisition rather than the cost."
Mets fans want a revolution? Cohen is promising one, saying his expectation is to win a World Series in three to five years. That gets us to this offseason, with the assumption that Cohen's wallet will allow the Mets to pursue free agents Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, George Springer and Marcell Ozuna, plus possibly a Francisco Lindor trade. The offseason also got a lot more interesting with the suspension Wednesday of Robinson Cano for the entire 2021 season after a second positive PED test.