Yesterday was a rare night to be a Mets fan. After a Thursday in which we were treated to the usual dysfunctional management and social media embarrassment, on Friday everything went right. The Mets trailed by multiple runs in each leg of a doubleheader against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, but they came back to win both. In the early game, Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, and Jake Marisnick all hit home runs in the sixth inning to turn a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 lead. Edwin Diaz even struck out the side in the seventh to close out the win.
The Mets fell behind 3-1 in the night cap and trailed 3-2 in the ninth when Amed Rosario turned an Aroldis Chapman hanging slider into a laser beam over the left-field wall. The two-run home run gave the Mets a walk-off victory in enemy territory.
What a night. The Mets were suddenly within one game of .500 and in playoff position as the eight seed in the crowded National League race. Yet somehow, life was going to get even sweeter for Mets fans.
About an hour before Rosario broke Yankee hearts across the country, news broke that Steve Cohen was the lone bidder left standing in the Mets sale saga. Cohen initially agreed to purchase the franchise from the Wilpon family last year, but the deal ended up falling through. Now that Cohen is back in the driver’s seat, there’s hope that the Wilpons will finally relinquish control of the team that they haven’t been able to fully support financially since Bernie Madoff made off with a good chunk of their fortune.
The impact of a sale cannot be understated. The Mets have been operating like a middle-market team for the past several years. Instead of signing the biggest stars in their prime like the Phillies did with Bryce Harper and the Padres did with Manny Machado, the Mets were mortgaging the future just to bringing in Robinson Cano even though he can’t play much second base anymore.
If Cohen does indeed take over this time, he is set to become the richest owner in baseball by a wide margin. That means the Mets will be competing for the top free agents every winter and bringing in big stars like they did with Carlos Beltran and John Santana in the 2000s. Cohen ownership means honestly competing with the Yankees for the title of best team in New York and not going on the long postseason droughts that the Mets have been prone to.
It’s going to take more than money, though. Cohen has to bring in a smart general manager who can build a strong supporting cast around the stars that we expect to join the team. Brodie Van Wagenen has made some decent moves like the trade for J.D. Davis and an affordable extension for Jacob deGrom, but his trade for Cano and Diaz is one that could have weighed down the Mets for years if Cohen wasn’t stepping in.
It’s never fair for someone to lose their job just because their boss changes, but Van Wagenen was a very outside-the-box hire by the Wilpons. If Cohen eventually takes control, he needs to evaluate for himself if Van Wagenen is capable of building a championship team. Because a championship is exactly what will be expected when Cohen brings his resources to a rabid fan base that has seen its team fall short of the Commissioner’s Trophy for the past 34 years.