And just like that, the whole meaning of being a New York Mets fan has changed forever. Am I possibly jumping the gun on that statement? Hell yes. But am I incredibly excited about what’s to come for the franchise after Tuesday’s press conference?
Double hell yes.
It was pure poetry to hear new owner and CEO Steve Cohen, along the team president Sandy Alderson, say everything they said in their respective sessions with the media. It was the kind of presser we’ve all dreamed of watching unfold, but never actually thought it was a possibility while stuck in the grip of the Wilpons.
Honestly, I still have to periodically check and make sure this isn’t an elaborate prank on us. The sky is darkest just before dawn, and it’s an amazing feeling to finally see the sun rise. The Mets now have an owner who really cares and actually wants to win. Oh, and he’s incredibly accessible, whether it be through Tuesday’s appearance or conversing with everyone on Twitter.
Picking one specific sound bite that resonated the most with me has been incredibly hard. Between talking about building a consistent winner, becoming an iconic franchise, and being disappointed if there’s no World Series victory within the next three-to-five years, my head was spinning in the best way possible. However, I enjoyed listening to Alderson talk as much as he did and go into all the details he provided.
During his first tenure with the Mets, I usually turned off press conferences feeling like he talked a lot but didn’t actually say much. Obviously, who he had to answer to was a big part of that issue, and comparing those memories with the Sandy we saw yesterday, it was like night and day. He got real specific in his answers to questions, was visibly happy and excited, and appeared ready to taste success in New York again.
Of all the things he said, there’s one quote that has stayed with me since Tuesday. And it’s because this particular statement is the gateway to everything else both he and Cohen discussed with the media:
“It’s not about how much less we can get someone for, it’s about getting that somebody. We can now emphasize the acquisition, rather than the cost.”
If I could only point to one quote that completely sums up the Wilpons’ ownership of the Mets — especially in the post-Madoff era — it’s this. If there was a need for the roster, the questions surrounding the team’s actions were always something to the effect of how cheaply the hole could be filled, regardless of whether it was through trades or free agency.
Last winter’s Zack Wheeler situation describes this perfectly. Instead of shelling out the money to a basically homegrown pitcher who had appeared to establish himself as a frontline starter, New York kicked him out the door, signed guys like Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello, and touted that they had the deepest rotation in baseball (narrator: they didn’t). Instead of fully buying into being a win-now team, the focus was on not overextending financially to actually get over the hump while also making it appear as if New York was going for it.
The complete other end of the spectrum was watching Marcus Stroman confirm that he accepted the Mets’ $18.9 million qualifying offer for 2021. In the past, this would’ve been bad news for the rest of the Mets’ offseason plans because of budget constraints — if Stro was even offered that deal in the first place.
This winter, though? It’s the perfect start to a franchise-altering offseason that will hopefully lead to a contending team. Sandy said it best — while they’ll still likely talk about the pros and cons of acquisitions, the focus of the conversation has shifted to how that player can help the team instead of trying to nickel and dime their way to ultimately settling for inferior options because they’re cheaper.
Heck, Cohen even THANKED Stroman for accepting the offer. Thanked him! I’m biased, but I’m unsure if I’ve ever seen an owner thank a player for something like that.
This week’s presser is just the beginning, and actions will speak louder than words. However, it already feels like they’re backing up what they’re saying more than we’ve ever seen people in these positions hae done in the past for the Mets. And it all begins with the simple fact that Alderson and his incoming team of baseball ops personnel will have the freedom to pursue upgrades without worrying about the cost.
What a novel concept for a big-market team.