If you were expecting Steve Cohen to go on an unhinged rant about his team’s shortcomings during Wednesday’s press conference, well, you may not know the New York Mets owner very well.
He’s no George Steinbrenner, but he certainly isn’t Hal, either. Cohen could’ve chosen to call into a radio show Wednesday, and it would’ve probably been a better use of everyone’s time. Instead, he faced the music.
While frustrated, Cohen, who has committed more to his team’s payroll than any other owner in the sport, fielded questions as he sat perched from a baseball mitt chair and fiddled with a water bottle on a Mets-branded high-top.
"I'll take responsibility. I'm the owner."
Steve Cohen is asked who should bear responsibility for the Mets' struggles this season: pic.twitter.com/enm9GtcjXM
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 28, 2023
It was a waste of everyone’s time, as Cohen didn’t say much of anything.
Yes, he took responsibility for his team’s performance or lack thereof, but that did not require a 30-minute press conference. Surely, fans want some sort of accessibility to the team’s owner after previous ownership—Fred and Jeff Wilpon—hid behind their general manager for years, ducking from taking any accountability as the team was the laughingstock of the league while playing in the biggest market in North America.
Cohen understands the expectations that come with playing in New York, but he hammered home the point that any mid-season firings would be detrimental to the team’s future. He’s not trying to win the headlines and own the back page of the city’s tabloids for a day. He committed to keeping Buck Showalter and Billy Eppler for the remainder of the season, as he’s set on the idea that any shortsighted firings would lead to top talent being turned off from the organization. Remember, the Mets are currently searching for a President of Baseball Operations, and Cohen made that inherently clear.
While the 67-year-old Cohen put himself directly in the line of fire, he didn’t say anything much differently than his general manager did the day prior. Cohen is obviously frustrated with the results, as his team entered Wednesday with a 36-43 record and is currently 16.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East.
It’s getting late, and Cohen is hyper-aware. But he’s a self-described patient guy and isn’t going to do anything impulsive, despite his team being one of the larger disappointments, if not the biggest, in the first half of this season of Major League Baseball.
“I understand the disappointment and frustration,” he said. “We have passionate fans. They live this. I watch every game…They aren’t performing up to the level that they would have expected for a multitude of reasons.”
Cohen said it was on the players to turn this thing around. So, why did he, the owner, then feel the need to call a press conference? Was it for accountability purposes? Was it to stroke his ego?
That’s a tricky question to answer, considering Cohen didn’t exactly present any new information, other than giving his manager and general manager the dreaded vote of confidence. Though, Cohen is pretty much committed to the idea that he’ll eventually demote Eppler in the hierarchy chain once he hires a President of Baseball Operations. So, was it really a vote of confidence? Who’s to say?
Probably the most unwavering comment he made, if you’re a Mets fan, is he seemingly realizes how far his ballclub is behind the eight ball in terms of player development. If that’s the case, why did he spend more money than anyone ever has this past offseason?
Cohen didn’t answer that question, though it wasn’t exactly posed in that format either.
Sure, you can give Cohen credit for speaking to the media and taking accountability for his team’s shortcomings; that’s a far cry from many other owners in the sport who fail to talk to reporters at least once a year. At the same time, what’s the purpose of Cohen calling a press conference if he doesn’t have much to say?
His team stinks. They’ve underperformed. He’s frustrated. He’s not going to make any rash decisions. No one’s getting fired. There, we summed it up for you.
Even then, Cohen could’ve articulated as much in a tweet and probably would’ve saved him and the local media some time. In any event, he took accountability for the team’s results on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean he provided a clear-cut vision for how this thing will get turned around.
Cohen is a Mets fan, but he didn’t act like an angry one at his presser Wednesday. That doesn’t exactly deserve a pat on the back, but his tone and demeanor struck a chord with Mets fans like myself, even if he didn’t say much of anything. He’s willing to invest a lot financially without making reactionary moves. So, no, he isn’t Steinbrenner, and don’t expect him to give quotes like he is.
From our standpoint, it sure would have been a lot more entertaining if Cohen had said brash things and made bold proclamations. But that isn’t his style. He didn’t win the press conference, though maybe he did win some brownie points with Mets fans. It’s fair to say that we need more of this in sports, but hopefully, future pressers will seem less like a town hall with empty answers.