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For Fans Who Should Know Better

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Mudville: November 28, 2020 12:27 pm PDT
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After a baseball lifetime of being around them at Shea Stadium, Citi Field and Port St. Lucie, here is what Mets fans want.

They want their ball club to stop being a punchline.They don’t want the Mets constantly compared to the Yankees.

They want consistent winning.

They want World Championships for Mets fans who are younger than 34 years old.

They want to keep the top young talent they draft like outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who was sent away to the Mariners in a trade that doomed the Brodie Van Wagenen Era the moment it was made.

They want their ballpark, Citi Field, to honor their team, immediately, and not be a shrine to the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Tom Seaver statue can’t come fast enough.

They want to be free and clear of the Wilpons, which has happened, but this is important too, they want to be done with the Wilpons from a mental standpoint as well. That has yet to happen. That will take time and spending money and winning games.

They want to be able to sign big-name free agents and key pieces as well but they don’t want it to be just buying a championship, they are too invested in young players who come up through the system. That is half the fun of being a fan.

They don’t want to waste anymore Cy Young years from Jacob deGrom, two have already been sent down the drain.

They want to build such a productive farm system that they can go out and trade for a Mookie Betts-like talent in a once in a generation deal, then sign that star to a forever contract.

They want Mets baseball to be fun again.

Most of all they want Mets pride back.

All that is a lot to ask but as far as first impressions go, new owner Steve Cohen essentially addressed each and every one of those wants, needs and dreams in his initial press Mets conference Tuesday.

Before we get to Cohen, though, let’s look at Sandy Alderson, who has returned to run the show for Cohen. Interesting that Cohen’s $14 billion is based in his business Point72 and that Alderson at 72 years of age has a new lease on his baseball life as Cohen’s baseball man. Symmetry.

I came away from that Zoom press conference thinking: You know who Alderson reminded me of after his 45-minutes of talking?

Sandy was Ebenezer Scrooge … on Christmas morning. He was positively giddy.

It was plain to see that Alderson had baseball life pumped back into his veins. He was ecstatic, humorous and ready to roll. That told me more about Steve Cohen than anything else.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that it was also the 245th birthday of the Marine Corps and this former Marine was back in charge of his baseball battalion.

Sandy Alderson, 1st Marines.

Later, on WFAN, Alderson proclaimed this about the free agent pick of the litter this winter right-hander Trevor Bauer: “I actually think Bauer would be a great personality in New York. [He’s] the kind of guy that fans would endorse. We’re in the entertainment business.”

With that one comment, Alderson was letting the baseball world and Bauer know, the Mets are finally players. And it was important for him to mention @BauerOutage and his big personality.

Mets fans hope it's a new day when one of their own - Steve Cohen - purchased the Amazins this week.

The former Marine struck first, a first assault on the rest of baseball for Bauer, who easily won the NL CY Young Award Wednesday night, gathering 27 of 30 first-place votes.

By saying that, Alderson made it clear Bauer would be welcomed by the Mets not only for his talents, but his personality as well. These new Mets under Cohen want players who are curious and seeking out new ways to success. The Mets also have Marcus Stroman back in the rotation after he accepted the $18.9 million qualifying offer on Wednesday.

Stroman was thrilled to be back and have Cohen as the Mets owner. Stroman is an ideal No.3 in a rotation or you can call him No. 2 if deGrom and Bauer are 1 and 1A.

A tandem of Bauer and deGrom would be the perfect match, fire and ice.

For all of deGrom’s greatness he has been in a situation where to keep his pitching sanity he has had to learn to live with the terrible failures of the Mets, the lack of run production when he is on the mound or having the bullpen blow a sure win. Time and time again.

It’s a matter of mental survival.

As I pointed out here last Sunday at BallNine, what better way for Bauer to continue his rivalry with former UCLA teammate Gerrit Cole, current Yankees ace, than taking him on in the Big Apple. Bauer’s Mets vs. Cole’s Yankees.

“We want to do it a Mets Way with a Mets Culture that is going to be uniquely ours.’’

This is a lot to think about but at least the Mets are being proactive and it came back to this Alderson comment: “The Mets have become a very attractive landing place. That’s true across the board. Suddenly, overnight, people are interested in working for the Mets within the game who perhaps were not before. I think players are interested in the Mets for reasons they might not have been before

“Today, given what we want to achieve, it’s not about how much less we can get somebody for, it’s more about getting that somebody,’’ Alderson explained. “I don’t want to create the impression that we’re just going to go out and sign a bunch of players. But I think we now can emphasize the acquisition rather than the cost.”

Like the costly return of Stroman.

It’s what real big market teams do.

Emphasizing the acquisition is a whole new look for the Mets.

If the player fits our needs let’s go get him. Imagine that.

That is music to Mets fans ears. If you give a portion of your heart and soul to a team that you root for that team has to pay you back by spending money when they are a big market team. That’s the deal.

If they put maximum effort into trying to attain success, you as a fan are good with that. From that point on it is up to the players to succeed and that is the fun part to watch, the essence of being a fan.

You don’t want to be crushed before the season starts. You don’t want any more declarations like: “If we stay heathy, we have a shot.’’

Or to me, the worst comment of all, “We want to play meaningful September games.’’

Winning meaningful October games is what it is all about and of course the money quote from Cohen was this: “If I don’t win a World Series in the next three to five years — you know I’d like to make it sooner — then I would consider that slightly disappointing.’’

And I like the fact he said “If I don’t win a World Series …’’

With that comment Cohen proclaimed he is the Mets. That’s the way it should be stated. He is the owner. He has the money and the buck, the billions, stop with him. He will put people in place. It’s up to Alderson and the new front office he builds to make it all happen with the right moves.

Sandy Alderson is back at the helm and ready to put together a new front office and get the on-field personnel ready for a new era of Mets baseball

The Mets could not even make the postseason in 2020 when every team with a pulse made the postseason.

That BVW front office was quickly thrown out of office by Alderson. That move had to be made, clean sweep.

Cohen, 64, said he wants to build a franchise that looks a bit like the franchise he tried to buy in 2012, the Dodgers. Dodgers president Stan Kasten built that organization. He is in the Alderson role. And still, despite all their talent this past World Series was the first the Dodgers have won since 1988.

They had to claw back from a 3-1 deficit against the Braves in the NLCS and needed Kevin Cash to remove his ace who was pitching a shutout to go with a reliever who had allowed runs in six straight postseason appearances to make the magic happen for the Dodgers in the World Series.

The Dodgers will be in the running every year for the foreseeable future and I also believe that is why Alderson made his Bauer pitch on the first day he could. If Bauer goes to the Dodgers that deals the Mets a terrible rotation blow.

As for the Yankees and the Mets rivalry, the Mets are always held up against the Yankees and their 27 World Championships. But Cohen really didn’t want to even make the Yankees the team to emulate. He shot them down quickly, which I liked.

The Mets have to be their own men. They’ve been around since 1962, it’s about time they’ve grown up as a franchise.

“We’re not competing against the Yankees,’’ Cohen said, a brilliant comment. “This is the Mets. We’ll have our own identity. I’m competing against 29 other teams in MLB.”

In his eyes the Yankees are one of 29 other teams and that’s a first step that should please Mets fans to no end. Enough with the Yankees adulation. Heck, the Yankees have won one World Series over the last 20 years. Yes, Yankee fans I know they have been in the postseason in all but four seasons, I can read Baseball-reference.com, but the bottom line is the only year they won it all after 2000 is 2009 so why should the Yankees be held up as a model of success.

This also was a smart comment from Cohen about spending money wisely: “You know,’’ he began, the two words most New Yorkers start with to make a point, “you can spend a lot of money today and then tie up your team in bad contracts for the next five years. That’s part of building a sustainable franchise. You want to make decisions not what works for the next 60 games but works for the next few years. We want to be thoughtful about it … We’re starting to see players maybe being off-loaded because of financial concerns and I think Sandy and I want to take advantage of that.

“We want to do it a Mets Way with a Mets Culture that is going to be uniquely ours.’’

The Other Mets Way is gone.

This is a brand new day so when BallNine asked Cohen, “As a fan, what were your thoughts when the Mets traded Jarred Kelenic to the Mariners?’’ Cohen offered an inside look into what has made him a hedge fund superstar.

“Listen, I’m not going to question what happened in the past,’’ Cohen began. “They made their decision and I’m sure it was well informed. Generally, our belief is we want to hold onto our farm system and only use them when we are close, if we need to use them as chips to trade for a player, we do it when we are really close to winning a championship.

“In my own hedge fund, the key to my firm is we develop talent all the time. If I didn’t do that and depended on just going out in the world and hiring people on the outside, I’d be out of business. So, I really feel it is important that we draft well, and develop our players and hold on to them.’’

There you have it, another win for Mets fans from the heart and soul of Cohen.

In that 2018 draft Kelenic went sixth. The first five picks were Casey Mize to the Tigers, Joey Bart to the Giants, Alec Bohm to the Phillies, Nick Madrigal to the White Sox and Jonathan India to the Reds.

A top six pick means the world to a franchise and every fans wants to watch his team develop such a talent. Sandy Alderson was the GM in 2018.

“You build champions, you don’t buy them,’’ Cohen said. “We’ve got a great core on this team, and we’re going to get better and I plan to make the investments we need to succeed.

“What I do believe is this is a major-market team, and it should have a budget commensurate with that,” Cohen said. “I’m not in this to be mediocre. That’s just not my thing. I want something great, and I know the fans want something great. That’s my goal and that’s what I’m going to do.”

More music to Mets’ fans ears.

“I want professionalism, I want integrity,” Cohen said. “I’m not going to put up with maybe the type of stuff that’s happened in other places. I want to hire the best and brightest, and I want to create a great farm system, develop our players and provide an environment — and let’s not forget the fans. Provide a product and when they interact with me at the stadium or on our media platforms, wherever, that their experience is extraordinary.”

Imagine a Mets experience that is extraordinary.

Not extraordinarily bad, either. Extraordinarily good. Just hearing that sentence must be heaven to a lifelong Mets fan, someone like my BallNine teammate Rocco Constantino, the yin to BallNine founder Chris Vitali’s Yankee yang.

Rocco, like all Mets fans, is sleeping a lot easier these days and is excited about the Mets future.

A lifelong Mets fan, Cohen knows exactly what Mets fans want.

44+ years, columnist at NY Post for the last 23 years prior to joining BallNine. Elected to the NY Baseball Hall of Fame. Former SportsTalk Host (KFMB), ESPN’s First Take and Cold Pizza contributor. Frequent guest on radio shows and podcasts nationwide. Author of seven books. Seen in episode 10 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” (the one with Dennis Rodman). First baseball interview he conducted was with Thurman Munson. Now you know why he is America’s Most Beloved Sportswriter.

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