Last April Steven Cohen — a bald man with glasses and thus, with the exception of having eight billion dollars to his name, is like me in most respects — was reported to be interested in buying into the Mets. Then that all went away as he got involved in the bidding for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But guess what? He still wants that minority stake in the Mets, and according to the Los Angeles Times, he is on the verge of getting that stake:
Steven Cohen, the billionaire investor trying to buy the Dodgers, is on the verge of becoming a minority owner in his hometown New York Mets. The deal would not preclude Cohen from pursuing the Dodgers, according to two people familiar with the transaction but not authorized to discuss it.
Not surprisingly, a hedge fund guy is hedging his bets. If he gets the Dodgers, he owns the Dodgers. If he doesn’t, he has his foot in the door and is through the approval process with Major League Baseball in the event that the Mets are sold outright.
In that case — assuming the team isn’t in bankruptcy — the blessing of Major League Baseball will be way more important than almost anything. And having given Bud Selig’s best buddy Fred Wilpon $20 million to tide him over will certainly put Cohen in Selig’s good graces.
But if he gets the Dodgers, he will have to sell that Mets stake. Which seems like it’d be difficult. But I guess we can file that under Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager Problems.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.