Despite public statements that suggest it’s only a matter of due diligence, and despite MLB fixing to approve the sale tomorrow, the Mayor of New York is reportedly still trying to use exotic legal provisions to block the sale of the New York Mets to Steve Cohen.
Bill de Blasio has privately told Major League Baseball that he will do everything he can to stop Steve Cohen from buying the Mets.
The Post has learned that [de Blasio] called MLB commissioner Rob Manfred earlier this month and told him outright that he opposed the idea of a hedge-fund billionaire buying a local team and would be using his oversight power of the city’s control of the Citi Field lease to prevent the sale from being finalized.
The official line from City Hall is that they are merely doing due diligence on the sale, which impacts a public property, and involves a prospective buyer whose past securities firm was convicted of insider trading. But this report cites other sources who say the Mayer’s Office has directed its legal team to find any possible way to block the sale. There are other rumors that, at an even broader political level in New York, there is a desire to see the sale go to Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez – yes, still.
Maybe I’ve watched too many movies, or maybe I’m just that cynical after what we saw with the Cubs and the City of Chicago, but it’s hard for me to imagine that this isn’t merely a matter of the mayor holding some leverage over Cohen, and trying to exact some “price.” I don’t know what it would be – better lease terms for Citi Field, some investment agreement on real estate, or even something shadier – but it seems like any time a political entity has a way to block, or threaten to block, a company from doing something major, they squeeze out those extra pennies.
My guess? The sale goes through, the mayor eventually gives it his blessing, and we later learn that Cohen and the Mets had to give up a little something to the city in exchange. Poor Mets fans just want someone who isn’t a Wilpon to own the team.
In the meantime, this story remains critically important to the whole baseball landscape, as a quick sale to Cohen could mean there is at least one large-market team looking to spend aggressively this offseason. In a market like this one, that could make a huge difference on price tags.