With Expanded Playoffs, Owners Like the Mets Steve Cohen Can Still Sell ‘Hope’

New York Mets Owner Steve Cohen

Getty New York Mets Owner Steve Cohen

When you have the guy with the biggest hat and the most cattle exercising his unbridled fiscal right, there tends to be a host of reactions across the gamut of good and bad.

Say what you want about New York Mets gazillionaire Steve Cohen, but from a distance, it’s hard to argue that the guy isn’t truly in this to make something great happen for a beleaguered Mets Nation.

Unfortunately for Uncle Steve, the baseball gods of destiny don’t often reward the most egregious spenders. The cross-town New York Yankees and left-coast Los Angeles Dodgers are prime examples.

However, there is one saving grace for franchises waddling in an underperforming hell with an inflated payroll out in front of a disappointing record. That would be an expanded playoff format built on the premise of just getting in and anything can happen.

While technically correct, here’s why the odds of raising the World Series trophy can still be a pipedream despite a playoff berth.

40% of All Teams Now Get in the Postseason

In the latest labor agreement, MLB postseason berths were increased from 10 to 12 (three division winners and three wild card entrants). In sum, more teams hovering close to that last wild card spot is good for fanbases and owners trying to keep viable interest in their product as summer unfolds.

Conversely, this also allows a roster with a highly questionable shot at advancing deep into said playoffs to continue selling the product with a you-never-know marketing tone.

Mets’ owner Steve Cohen had some comments this past weekend in the June 8 and 9 games vs. the Philadelphia Phillies (across the pond in London) that apply. Cohen told the New York Post’s Joel Sherman this.

“What are we, four games out of the wild card [before Sunday’s action]?” Cohen said. “We shouldn’t be proud of that, right? We’re still nine games under [.500], but it gives you the opportunity to make the season a success. And so that’s the way I’m looking at it.”

Very Few Have a Realistic Shot at a World Series

If you are say a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, getting in the playoffs regardless of how soon you get booted is an exciting prospect in 2024. When you’re Steve Cohen and the New York Mets, anything short of an NLCS appearance seems like a failure on paper.

Since the start of the 2023 campaign, Cohen’s Mets have gone 103-123 while shoveling out an astonishing nearly three-quarter billion ($652 million) investment.

Despite fan angst and a roster that underwhelms the soul, Cohen is still trying to sell a wild card mulligan.

“I still think that can happen. There are a lot of good ballplayers on this club, and it’s just a question of getting a little confidence, getting on a run, and listen, I think that’s possible,” Cohen told SNY.

Currently 16.5 Games Behind the Phillies, 200-1 Odds to Win the World Series.

Here’s the bad news sports fans. The Mets are a distant 16.5 back of the division-leading Phillies, nine games under .500 at home, and have a -33 run differential. The overall vibe is depressing.

That said, a glance at the wild card standings has the Mets only three games out 10 days into June 2024. Not bad, right? Well, they have nine teams in front of them vying for one of the three available slots.

To make matters much worse, the Mets are currently 200-1 to win the 2024 World Series. To put that in perspective, it’s like placing a two-dollar win horse wager at Aqueduct Racetrack and watching the teller hand you $402 back after the monumental upset.

That rarely happens at any race track around the world. So hopeful rhetoric aside, the Mets are truly up against a stark reality when it comes to a sustained playoff run should they get in.

Cudos for Trying, Steve Cohen

When you look at Cohen’s efforts since purchasing the team, Mets fans can appreciate one aspect of Steve Cohen. The guy went for it. He dug deep…REAL deep.

Even though throwing 55-gallon drums full of Benjamins at his rosters hasn’t brought the ultimate prize to the hungry Mets faithful (who could have predicted Francisco Lindor‘s deal would turn out to be such a bummer?), Cohen has displayed the passion to make it happen.

Contrary to what some may think about Cohen’s hire of Daniel Stearns, this was a smart move. That’s not to say it will work out (SEE Chaim Bloom in Boston), but if anyone can patch up a gigantic hole in the Titanic before it sinks, it might be Stearns

He inherited one heck of a mess with Luxury Tax vultures circling the stadium in Flushing. But to his credit, he’s from the historically significant front office chain of Jeff Luhnow and Sig Mejdal.

Luhnow’s scandal aside, their results in St. Louis, Houston, and now Baltimore (for Mejdal) are impressive—as was Stearns’ time in Milwaukee.

The Brewers had the lowest payroll in MLB during Stearns’ first two seasons. They were never higher than 16 in his entire tenure. He took them to the postseason for four straight years. While a deep playoff run didn’t materialize, this is a smaller market in Milwaukee and his accomplishments were still commendable.

To be sure, Stearns has his toughest test to date with this Met’s debacle, but I’d give him a shot, New York.




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