MLB is seemingly intent on doing the easy thing by selling the Mets to gazillionaire financier and hedge fund manager Steve Cohen. And Mets fans are understandably excited at the prospect of procuring new ownership following the long-running comedy of the Wilpon family, which in the manner of the former R-skins and now Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder, saw a hallowed institution systematically reduced to a morale-hemorrhaging laughingstock. Daniel Snyder is “two ways incompetent,” as we describe in the regional dish we named after him: he’s clueless and he’s corrupt. The weird anti-magic possessed by Snyder has resulted in fan indifference locally at a level that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. When Football Team plays opposite another game that airs regionally, they are commonly outrated by the other game. The brightest minds at MIT are no doubt attempting to quantify Snyder’s incomprehensible anti-charisma. You can stipulate that a Cohen owned Mets might not be anywhere near that incompetent. But MLB might be wading into the other half of a Daniel Snyder problem. Cohen has some anti-charisma about him too.
When Bill DeBlasio signalled that he might interfere with the Mets’ sale to Cohen this past week, he wasn’t simply engaging in a random act of Mayor’s Rights obstructionism. The baggage with Cohen is considerable and has the potential to impact the reputation of both city and league, if they had reputations. Between the 2013 felony accusations of insider trading and the long history of gender harassment claims and workplace grievances leveled against his firm, Cohen might arguably be ruled unacceptable simply by the bylines of the delightfully named “Prohibited Person” clause in the Mets’ lease with city-controlled agencies, which seems to give New York the “sole discretion” to veto the sale of the team to any figure who has committed a crime of moral turpitude.” Bill DeBlasio, for his part, appears to be actively “evaluating” doing just that.
Look — I’m not in the job of judging turpitude, though I do enjoy it. It may be that the real shame of the Cohen rubber stamp from MLB is that several other bidders represent a different path for one of the league’s flagship franchises. Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez were high-profile aspirants who’ve been shut out by the process, missing an opportunity to up MLB’s still woeful diversity quotient. And wouldn’t it be poetic if the city used the power it has as a pretty direct result of Robert Moses’ slash-and-burn through the minority communities of the outer boroughs to install a woman of color in one of America’s most exclusive clubs? Asking for a friend.