The Mets are — were, really, since they are hard to recognize on this first day after the MLB trade deadline — a disgrace. An embarrassment. A joke. Whatever you want to call them, they certainly are. And now that the white flag has been vigorously waved on this colossal debacle of a season, we are about to find out just how different Steve Cohen is. Or is not.
The honeymoon is over for Uncle Steve. We are three years in now and no one has gone down the Canyon of Heroes yet. Cohen has spent a lot of money and tweeted a bunch and that is about it. And now — thanks to whistleblower Max Scherzer — we know the Amazins do not have much planned for next year either after a firesale so head-spinning we were afraid Keith Hernandez might get traded to someone else’s broadcast booth.
For those keeping score: The richest man in baseball history finished under .500 in 2021, collapsed in 2022, flopped in 2023 and plans to mail in 2024. And maybe 2025, too.
Cohen aced the start of his ownership tenure. We love big checkbook energy here. Even Mikhail Prokhorov has his moment in the sun. And Cohen had an asset even greater than his immense wealth: He is not Fred or Jeff Wilpon. But eventually you have to back it all up. Cohen has not done that yet. And now he has an epic embarrassment tied around his neck.
This is a fork-in-the-road moment for Cohen now and in the coming months. The dirty little secret about New York sports: The men who steward our beloved teams leave much to be desired. Jim Dolan has been better recently, but that is like boasting you saved the foundation after the house burned to the ground. Hal Steinbrenner is hopeless. Woody Johnson has Aaron Rodgers, but has not made the playoffs in 12 years. And John Mara’s PR apparatus has done its best to make you forget he signed off on Eli Manning’s benching, empowered Dave Gettleman and hired Joe Judge. But he did.
We thought Cohen was going to be different. That he would have the personal touch of Wellington Mara and the winning-is-everything aggression of George Steinbrenner, but without decades of on-field ineptitude and self-destructive tendencies. And he still might be. But right now he is just another beaten owner who set high expectations, only to have an anvil dropped on his head.
No one wants to hear the Mets will not contend next year. But it is probably true. You cannot buy an entire starting rotation in one offseason. But they have to do something. Show something. And that starts with Cohen.
Lock Pete Alonso down. Finally get David Stearns in town. Decide on Buck Showalter’s future, and allow him to leave with dignity if there is none. Make a run at Shohei Ohtani or Juan Soto — not fake ones like the Yankees will muster, but actually attempt to land one or both. And present a vision with transparency. Mets fans may not like it, but they will respect it if conveyed with accountability and honesty. And if Cohen cannot make this all happen? He is not the guy we believed him to be.