Opinion: New owner Steve Cohen gives Mets fans something to celebrate

It was the New York Mets’ most euphoric moment since the evening of Oct. 27, 1986 with Jesse Orosco leaping off the mound, throwing his glove high into the sky as the Mets won Game 7 of the World Series.

This day, there was no one around, but after listening to new Mets owner Steve Cohen and president Sandy Alderson speak for 90 minutes Tuesday, a despondent, neglected fan base was suddenly jolted awake.

Cohen and Alderson talked about the potential of a dynasty.

They talked about the Mets morphing into an iconic franchise.

They talked about winning World Series championships.

New Mets owner Steve Cohen says he hopes to win a World Series withing three to five years. (Photo: AP)

They talked about going where no Mets franchise has gone before, being a championship-caliber club year after year after year, becoming the Atlanta Braves of the ‘90s and the Los Angeles Dodgers of this decade.

“We want to be iconic,’’ Alderson said. “We don’t want to be just known for winning. We want to be known for how we win."

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The easy narrative would be for Cohen, worth $14.6 billion, to announce that he’s going to buy every free agent they want, blow past the luxury tax and become the ultimate destination for any player who wants to set up generations of his family .

Cohen swiftly dismissed those ideas.

“You build championships,’’ Cohen said, “you don’t buy them."

The Mets instead want to spend the money building an infrastructure, a model franchise that reaches the postseason every year, scouting and developing their players better than everyone else and generating ideas with a diverse workplace that make the Mets into a baseball utopia.

“Suddenly, overnight,’’ Alderson said, “I think people are interested in working for the Mets who were perhaps not before. I think players are interested in playing for the Mets who perhaps were not before.

“You don’t change perception without changing the reality."

Cohen, 64, spoke about his lifelong passion for the Mets, seeing games at the Polo Grounds with his father, taking in games from the upper deck at Shea Stadium, and now wanting to satisfy a passionate fan base that felt neglected during the Wilpon ownership era.

There were attempts to bait Cohen into ridiculing the past ownership, but he refused. He acknowledged he had not heard from Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez who also bid on the Mets but wished them well. He wouldn’t even chastise the ill-fated trade with the Seattle Mariners, taking on aging second baseman Robinson Cano and All-Star closer Edwin Diaz for prized outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Justin Dunn.

The past didn’t matter, Cohen reiterated.

That was then.

This is now.

And you’re about to see a massive difference in how everything is run.

“I’m not in this to be mediocre,’’ Cohen said. “That’s just not my thing. I want something great. The fans want something great. … I’m essentially doing it for the fans. When I thought about this, I can make millions of people happy. That’s how I’m thinking about it. I don’t have a big ego. I’m doing it for them. I relate to them. I know how they feel.

“I’m not trying to make money here. It’s about building something great, something for the fans. I just find this an amazing opportunity. I’m so excited for it."

There were no promises made. Cohen said he’d be disappointed if they don’t win a World Series title within three to five years but offered no guarantees. There may be similarities between running a hedge fund and a baseball club, in that nothing is ever promised.

Will the Mets, who already have about $153 million in committed salaries to 18 players, dive into the free-agent market?

Absolutely.

Will they spend wildly and instantly topple the New York Yankees, Dodgers and Chicago Cubs for the biggest payrolls in the game?

Nope.

“I can promise you that we’re going to act like a major-market team,’’ Cohen said. “Are we going to act like drunken sailors? No.

“We want to win now but also build for the long-term. I’m trying to build a sustainable franchise. I don’t want to be good one year and bad three years. I want to be good every year."

They still want that nucleus to come from their farm system, not a fat bank account, but if they need a few things, they won’t hesitate to whip out that checkbook. They need starting pitching. They need catching help. They need bullpen help.

Maybe they’ll grab a few of those pieces this winter in free agency, whether it’s signing catcher J.T. Realmuto, outfielder George Springer or starter Trevor Bauer, but they can at least now entertain the idea.

“We now can emphasize the acquisition,’’ Alderson said, “rather than the cost.’’

Alderson, the former Marine officer, was almost giddy on the call. He talked about the need to clean out the front office and start from scratch, already interviewing a president of baseball operations. They'll probably will hire a GM, too. Manager Luis Rojas will likely stay.

Alderson, who has engaged in a war of words with high-powered Scott Boras over the decades, felt so exhilarated that he even entertained a reporter on Boras’ running joke of their spending habits, accusing them of shopping strictly in the frozen food department of grocery stores.

“I would say we are going to make sure we have enough meat and potatoes,’’ Alderson said, “but we are going to be shopping in the gourmet section, after all.’’

It was that kind of joyful and euphoric day for the Mets.

They haven’t won a thing on the field, but they may started to gain the trust of a weary fan base.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale.

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