Bock’s Score: Spend Game


It seemed like forever that the New York Mets were run like a Mom and Pop store instead of a Major League Baseball franchise in the largest city in the country.

Mom and Pop Wilpon were a low budget operation, always shopping for bargains in a marketplace where their big brother Yankees spent freely.

The best example was in the dugout and front office. When the Wilpons went shopping for a general manager, they hired a player agent with no GM experience, turning the team over to Brodie Van Wagenen, whose main qualification was that he was a golfing buddy of Jeff Wilpon. He promptly imported his used-up clients for the roster.

When they went shopping for managers, they delivered Mickey Callaway, who had zero managerial experience and did some naughty things leading to his suspension from baseball. When they needed a successor, they delivered Luis Rojas, who also had zero big league managerial experience and often came up with strange strategies and moves.

This was a not ready for prime time operation and it showed. Once new owner Steve Cohen relieved the Wilpons, he also relieved the fan base of the built-in nonsense.

He reached into his bulging bankroll to sign major free agents like Max Scherzer and Starling Marte, both prime time performers. And when he needed a manager, he reached out not for some newbie who had never done this job before, but instead for Buck Showalter, who arrived equipped with 20 years of experience and three Manager of the Year awards.

How refreshing.

There are no guarantees in baseball. That’s part of what makes the sport so fascinating. But Cohen’s moves have demonstrated a willingness to invest in this team, something the previous administration did not always feel obliged to do.

Oh, Mom and Pop Wilpon had their moments. There was a World Series championship in 1986 and pennants in 2000 and 2015. Those triumphs were few and far between as the team used a parade of patchwork players. They never competed for the big fish in the free agent pond, satisfied instead to reel in minnows and hope for the best.

That attitude has clearly changed under Cohen’s stewardship and not a moment too soon. He saw what the residue of the old regime produced last year and it was not exactly what he had in mind. So he went out and changed the look and the pulse, creating the highest payroll in baseball and he hopes, a winner for New York.


About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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