‘Uncle Steve’ Gives Mets Fans Something to Believe In

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Published November 27, 2020
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The Montclarion
After years of anguish, New York Mets fans finally have something to be hopeful for. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Joe Pantorno

I was born on Oct. 21, 2000, during game one of the 2000 World Series. That year, the New York Mets played the New York Yankees in what was referred to as the “Subway Series.” My dad, a huge Mets fan, told my mom not to push because the inning was pretty important. The doctor agreed.

The first pitch was thrown a little after 8 p.m., and I was born at 8:56 p.m. The Mets lost that game 4-3 and the series 4-1, setting the tone for the rest of my life. Flushing, Queens, has been the home of misfits and loveable losers, but not since 1986 has the city held a championship team.

Perennial penny-pinchers Fred and Jeff Wilpon closed on a $2.4 billion deal to sell the team to New York native and lifelong fan, Steve Cohen, earlier this month. The Wilpon family were notorious for skimping on the on-field product to make up for their immense financial losses from investing in the 2008 Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Cohen, who possesses a net worth north of $14 billion, according to Forbes magazine, becomes by far the wealthiest owner in Major League Baseball; a welcome change of pace for Mets die-hards following years of being the younger brothers of New York.

Affectionately nicknamed “Uncle Steve” by fans, Cohen grew up in Washington Heights, Manhattan, and has always dreamed of owning a sports team, purchasing a minority stake in the Mets in 2012.

The businessman amassed his inconceivable fortune through hedge-fund management, though his firm paid $1.8 billion for insider trading in 2016. Notorious for his battles with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and having a substantial art collection that includes works by Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso, which is reportedly worth around $1 billion, the business magnate should provide a much needed financial boon to the Metropolitans.

Cohen came out firing off the bat, taking fan suggestions through Twitter on how to best improve the team. A far cry from his predecessors, one of Cohen’s first moves as owner of the Mets was to end the pay cuts taken by employees due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as to provide $17.5 million in grants to small businesses in New York City during these trying times.

Cohen further inspired hope through his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 10. There, he introduced former general manager, Sandy Alderson, who served in that role for the team from 2010 to 2018, as the new team president.

Along with his introduction, Cohen wasted no time in expressing how he feels regarding his team’s future endeavors.

“If I don’t win a World Series in the next three to five years, I would like to make it sooner, then obviously I would consider that slightly disappointing,” Cohen said.

That quote made headlines, as has most of his short Mets tenure thus far. A new aura is coming to Citi Field, a palpable feeling that the Mets will not be pathetic forever.

Not only are the fans buying in, but so are the players. Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman was heading toward free agency until Cohen’s introductory press conference, after which, he accepted the team’s qualifying offer of $18.9 million for a one year deal. Several other players within the organization have voiced approval for their new boss, as those outside the team have as well.

Rumor mills are running wild with potential Mets acquisitions during this offseason. Marquee talents such as catcher JT Realmuto, pitcher Trevor Bauer and shortstop Francisco Lindor are firmly on the menu. After years of being priced out of those players, comprising the cream of the crop, business is suddenly booming in Flushing.

The city of New York will now have two big-budget teams jockeying for position for the first time since the “Subway Series” of 2000. While the Yankees are firmly ahead thus far, they should watch their backs. A wave of blue and orange is on the horizon.

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