“I anticipate closing the deal in the next 10 days and then it’s off and running,” tweeted someone who was supposedly the hedge-fund magnate Steven A. Cohen last November 1 from an unverified and rather sketchy-looking account called @StevenACohen2.
At first, folks were skeptical: The infamous financier was about to purchase the New York Mets from the chaotic and cursed Wilpon family for $2.4 billion, and it seemed a little unlikely that a man known for being professionally terse and profitably enigmatic in the world of high-stakes trading would be out there blabbing on the internet about inside baseball. And yet, as the deal closed and the tweets continued and the verification finally appeared, it became clear that out there blabbing on the internet he really was!
While it feels like just last week and also somehow a decade ago that Cohen took over the Mets, in reality it has been 11 months. In that time, the team has made blockbuster trades, showcased (and withheld) one of the best pitchers on the planet, and lost large swaths of the roster to injury. Multiple players have rallied briefly, and disastrously, around the art of giving a thumbs-down to fans. In January, the team’s general manager was fired; in September, his replacement was arrested. And, according to a Twitter factoid that made the rounds after the team was mathematically eliminated from the postseason in late September (having already spiritually dropped out of contention long ago), the 2021 Mets earned a dreadful new distinction: No other MLB team has ever spent more time in first place (103 days!) without having a winning record to show for it.
I have seen this statistic in several places today, and there is no better summation of the 2021 Mets:— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 27, 2021
No team in Major League history has spent as much time (103 days) in first place and finished with a losing record. The Mets are mathematically guaranteed to become the first.
What’s that they say? Same old Mets. The difference is that this season, all of this has been documented on Twitter by the sometimes snarky, frequently cheugy, and increasingly irritated billionaire owner of the team. Behold, the 2021 Mets season, as experienced through the Twitter-for-iPhone of @StevenACohen2.
November 2020: Our Journey Begins
Cohen’s quest to buy the Mets wasn’t new. Already a minority owner, he had been in talks with the Wilpons for about a year before he finally bought the team, including reaching an impasse over future control of decision-making that caused both sides to walk away for several months in early 2020. Cohen prevailed, the Wilpons were shown the door, and unexpectedly a true poster was born—even if he couldn’t get that blue check right away. “We have called Twitter,” Cohen wrote last November about his lack of verification. “They have been busy dealing with the election but promised to get on it.”
In the meantime, Cohen tweeted: “Big news in the world today as vaccine from Pfizer appears to work well.Very exciting” and told Marcus Stroman he’d give him a call to say thanks after Stroman had re-upped with the team for a year and $18.9 million. He engaged with fans about how to make the Mets experience better. Replying to one guy who identified himself as a parking lot attendant at Citi Field, Cohen joked: “Patrick , I hope you let me in”. (I have tried to faithfully reproduce Cohen’s strange syntax, which reads as though every tweet has been translated through a Bloomberg terminal and back, throughout this piece; apologies, copy editors!) He quickly established himself as a man with a distinct Twitter voice: droll, oddly punctuated, and, crucially, corny as hell.
How do you think the bobble head feels— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 19, 2020
December 2020: Black Jerseys or Bust
“Do you want the good news or the bad news?” Cohen wrote on December 7, shortly after he had mused, in terrifying boss fashion: “Do you think I should call Sandy [Alderson, the team president] to find out what’s happening at the Winter Meetings.” The good news was that Cohen had lost 2 pounds recently. The bad news? No news about any pending transactions to feed to a rabid Mets fan base eager to move past the old frugal Wilpon era that had kept the team on the sidelines in various free-agent sweepstakes.
Nearly two weeks later, and still no news. Cohen instead turned to a subject that would become a recurring bit. “Let’s take a vote,” he tweeted. “Carvel or black jerseys.” Translation: Should he bring back an old ice cream vendor, or reintroduce the black uniforms that became popular during the heady Mike Piazza era and hadn’t been worn by the Mets in nearly a decade?
On December 24, Cohen wished everyone happy holidays, but it was clear that all he wanted for Christmas was some deal flow. By the end of the month, Cohen seemed to be growing restless alongside the rest of the Mets fans. When the San Diego Padres pulled off a trade for pitcher Blake Snell, he wrote: “Hey , Give the Padres credit. They had a top 5 farm system that gave them flexibility to trade for Snell. Newsflash, the Mets farm system needs to be replenished .”
A couple of days later, when a fan who wanted the Mets to make a splash in free agency admitted that “if I have to wait a day more for george springer I will lose my shit,” Cohen wrote back: “I guess you are in for a rough day.”
January 2021: Market Vol
It was the best of times, it was the weirdest of times. “I don’t need to be popular I just need to make good decisions,” Cohen tweeted on January 4, though in the weeks that followed he sure seemed to be leaning into an “Uncle Stevie” persona that often felt like a deliberate and well-deployed distraction from his considerably less affable past. He gave a weight loss update—down 8 pounds, trying for 7 more—and had encouraging remarks for others who shared their own journeys. He solicited fan input on changes to the stadium. And when the Mets pulled off a huge trade to acquire the rights to electric 27-year-old star shortstop Francisco Lindor, Cohen already had his go-to joke prepped:
I know this trade seems to creating excitement but let’s get back to what matters - the black jerseys— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) January 7, 2021
But by January 19, the festive mood around him and the organization gave way to reports that the team GM, Jared Porter, had sexually harassed a reporter in 2016. Cohen announced that he was terminating Porter just weeks before pitchers and catchers were due to report and just a few weeks after Cohen had spoken in a press conference about the importance of hiring the best people.
Somehow, the month was far from over. The outrageous and rollicking rise of international attention—and money—toward the embattled mall video game retailer GameStop was a snowball of a story that rolled up all sorts of debris in its path. This included Cohen, who became something of a bogeyman to the Reddit- and Robinhood-enabled investor army that was unhappy with his market machinations on the opposite side of the GameStop trade. “Rough crowd on Twitter tonight,” Cohen wrote on January 26. “Hey stock jockeys keep bringing it.”
One such stock jockey, the Barstool provocateur-investor David Portnoy, took him up on the challenge:
What are you talking about? I unequivocally deny that accusation. I had zero to do with what happened today Btw, If I want to make an additional investment with somebody that is my right if it’s in the best interest of my investors Chill out— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) January 28, 2021
The two argued until, ultimately, Uncle Stevie stepped away from the digital dinner table. “Anyway,” he tweeted, “back to the Mets.” Then, just like that, he was gone.
February 2021: Stevie’s Done, Gone the Fun
A dark month indeed: All quiet on the Greenwich front. No tweets for weeks, a silence finally broken by a February 23 “GeeZ” in reaction to news of Tiger Woods’s car accident and a generic “I’m heading down to spring training” dispatch.
Then, on February 25, Cohen cracked a joke about wanting the same jacket as Lindor.
Where can I get a jacket like that?— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) February 25, 2021
He told me only for certain players . I guess I need more pull— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) February 25, 2021
Spring had sprung, and nature was healing.
March 2021: Guess Who’s Back, Back Again
It didn’t take long for Cohen to return to his old ways: tweeting with the aimless persistence of a man with his head leaning on the window of a delayed train and his phone battery slowly draining to nothing. As the baseball world bided its time before opening day and fans wondered if the season would begin without Lindor being signed to a long-term deal, the Mets’ new owner converted his nervous energy into a whole bunch of pleasant Twitter exchanges with randos:
Could be a body double— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) March 8, 2021
Down about 9 lbs , good not great— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) March 8, 2021
Well, if I extend everybody I’m going to be pretty extended— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) March 18, 2021
When a fan asked him what he liked most about Lindor, Cohen replied: “The blue hair for sure. I’m not sure I could rock the blue hair like he can .A better question is can he rock the quarter zip sweater like I can.”
Later in the month, with the start of the season looming, Lindor still unsigned, and Mets fans preparing to panic, Cohen toyed with the fan base. “What do you think Lindor will accept?” he tweeted on March 26. When someone predicted six years, $180 million, Cohen responded: “I got a better shot at growing back hair on my head.”
April 2021: Welcome to the Big Leagues
Ah, opening day! The crack of the bat, the smell of the grass, the groan of everyone reading Cohen’s latest dad joke:
Is the game on?— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) April 5, 2021
Cohen’s first season as owner got off to a fine start. After a few tense days at the end of March in which the Lindor deal seemed on tenterhooks and Cohen tweeted through it, the Mets signed the shortstop to a $341 million, 10-year deal that fans hoped marked the dawn of a new era for the franchise. While the team’s early schedule was borked due to COVID-19-related rescheduling, on April 8, the Mets beat the Marlins with a Jeff McNeil walk-off home run to win their home opener, and in the team’s first two weeks of the season they amassed a 8-4 record that included two more walk-off wins and put them in first place in the NL East.
Still, Cohen seemed uneasy as the weeks went by and the team’s bats, Lindor’s included, failed to light up in a meaningful way. “Offense suggests runs scored , that wasn’t offense,” he grumped on April 23. “I think we are all surprised at the lack of hitting so far,” he tweeted on April 29, the day after Mets fans booed Lindor for hovering around the Mendoza Line. “Thankfully , the pitching has been outstanding . The season has a long way to go.”
When the Mets lost to the Phillies and slipped out of the top spot in their division, he yukked it up online. “At least Twitter is making me laugh on a tough night so far,” Cohen wrote. A generation of terminally online Mets fans nodded, understanding a little too well.
May 2021: “Anybody Want to Suit Up?”
On May 1, the Mets broke a three-game losing streak on the road in Philadelphia in a 5-4 win over the Phillies aided by Michael Conforto’s go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth. After the game, Conforto and first baseman Pete Alonso both strangely credited an unknown new member of the Mets organization, a so-called “approach coach” named Donnie Stevenson, with helping shore up their offense. The following morning, the team owner how-do-you-do-fellow-kids’d into the conversation. (He also suggested Donnie as a baby name for an in-labor Mets fan.)
I love Donnie . A major resource to the team and pretty cheap too— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) May 2, 2021
Donnie, it turned out a week later, referred to a semi-costumed alter ego of Alonso who donned a hat and sunglasses (sadly, there was no Bobby Valentine–esque mustache reported, though you never know) and gave the team a pep talk during a meeting. It was good that everyone could laugh about this, because things were about to get a little more serious, though no less absurd.
Throughout the month of May it felt like the entire Mets roster was on the injured list: ace Jacob deGrom; third baseman JD Davis; and Pete “Donnie” Alonso were just a small sampling of the guys who were down for the count. Noah Syndergaard, recovering from Tommy John surgery a year-plus earlier, suffered a setback in his rehab. At one point, the Mets’ catcher, James McCann, had to start at first base for the first time in his career. By the end of May, the Mets had so many injuries to center fielders that they were down to a fifth-stringer at the position. “Anybody want to suit up?” Cohen tweeted. (In another post, he gave fans a new weight loss status report: down 13 pounds.)
Somehow, amid all of this, the Mets went on a seven-game win streak in the middle of May and then won five in a row to close out the month in first place.
June 2021: Steve Cohen, Classic Gemini!
When Cohen thanked everyone for their birthday wishes on June 11, suddenly it all made sense. Of course this trader-by-day, owner-by-Twitter would be a dualistic Gemini! His day job of moving unfathomable sums of money around may appeal to Cohen’s celestially inherent curiosity. But at the end of the day? What the guy really, really wants is to chat.
The Mets were riding absurdly high for pretty much all of June, up a handful of games in the division for weeks on end despite an ongoing cavalcade of injuries. During this time, the majority of Cohen’s tweets took the sort of half-bland, half-aggro conversational energy of that one unfamiliar number on any group text chain.
“I’m noticing a lot less complaining when the team is doing well,” Cohen remarked on June 1, after the Mets had won five in a row. (They blew a 4-0 lead to fall in extra innings that night.) “I’ve also noticed there is less complaining when DeGrom pitches,” Cohen bragged a few days later, as if he’d been busy typing that follow-up the whole time. Other dispatches were more Magic Johnson–ian in their meaninglessness. “You got to love this team,” he wrote. “They continue to find a way to get it done.”
On June 19, in the first game of a doubleheader against Washington, a slumping Lindor demonstrated his old familiar form, hitting two home runs and prompting a potential change of itinerary for Cohen.
I was going to play golf this afternoon. Maybe I should stick around and see if Francisco can make it 3 homers on the day— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) June 19, 2021
Instead, the Mets lost the second game of the doubleheader on the way to dropping four of their next five, a situation that prompted Cohen to pull his favorite emergency rip cord. “All I know is we are one day closer to the black jerseys,” he tweeted.
July 2021: Rain Clouds Over the Trade Deadline
Cohen’s tweets in July largely pondered the subject of power: who possesses it, how to properly describe its misunderstood burdens, etc. With MLB’s trade deadline approaching at the end of the month and the Mets still in first place in spite of themselves, Cohen was clearly hearing a lot of input from fans eager to see the team make a big summer deal to add some oomph (and, like, some uninjured players) going into the postseason. Naturally, not all the ideas were achievable.
“To play GM, you have to say what you are willing to give up to get somebody .” Cohen wrote at the start of July. (Which, fair enough: Mike Francesa told callers this for decades!) That same morning he wrote: “Let’s play GM. What would you do to improve the team and are you willing to mortgage the young talent in our farm system to do it ?” Midway through the month, he was still on about this. “Let’s play GM again,” he wrote. “Make a trade now and pay a big price or wait until closer to the deadline and pay a reasonable price ?”
In the interim, there were the rains. Obsessively live blogging an early July storm that he swore was going to break for long enough to get the game in, Cohen came across a little bit like a digital Lieutenant Dan strapped to the mast, swearing at the skies.
Finally, though, he made an admission. “We tried but weather didn’t cooperate . I can control some things but that isn’t one of them,” he said.
At the trade deadline, the Mets acquired hurler Rich Hill as well as the Cubs’ electric if inconsistent pending free agent Javy Báez and pitcher Trevor Williams. Cohen didn’t tweet about the trade deadline, but when the Mets won in a walk-off on July 31 he crowed: “Gusty [sic] win by this no quit team. A lot more gutsy than the naysayers with fake handles on this site.” For the man with all the power, he seemed pretty rattled by the little guy.
August 2021: The Dog Days of August
It’s the dog days of August . 57 games to go in the season .We need to grind out wins, one game at a time .We can do this ! LGM— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) August 3, 2021
It doesn’t look that way when I send it— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) August 3, 2021
Even when Cohen welcomed his tweeps to the “dog days of August,” he had no idea just what the stars in his orbit would soon be conjuring up. The month began with the news that New York would not be signing Kumar Rocker, the tantalizing pitching prospect that they’d taken in the first round of the draft then failed to sign in what looked to be a rather botched situation. This yielded a testy tweet about asymmetric returns (one that wouldn’t be out of place over on @VCBrags!) “Education time - Baseball draft picks are worth up to 5x their slot value to clubs .” Cohen wrote. “I never shy away from investments that can make me that type of return.”
The Mets lost seven of eight games to open the month. “I’m not in a joking mood,” Cohen tweeted on August 7, though things were about to get more grim, including with a 2-11 slump during a long stretch of pivotal series against the Giants and Dodgers. The Mets came into August four games up in the NL East; by August 27, they were 7.5 games back. Nine of their losses during that stretch were by one run.
“It’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive,” Cohen tweeted on August 18. “The best teams have a more disciplined approach.The slugging and OPS numbers don’t lie.”
Most memorably, August wrapped up with some defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in a new and unexpected way. On August 29, when the Mets finally won back-to-back games for the first time in weeks, players including Báez and Lindor marked their offensive production with some celebratory thumbs-downs. After the game, Báez explained that he and his teammates wanted fans to know “that when we don’t get success, we’re going to get booed, so they’re going to get booed when we’re a success.”
This turned out to be unpopular with antsy Mets fans frustrated by the baseball they’d seen over the past month. Reliably, Cohen resorted to old faithful:
I miss the days when the biggest controversy was the black jerseys— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) August 30, 2021
As a sports fan, any time you can end a month of 9-19 baseball with a tweet from your owner that begins “Glad to hear our players apologizing to the fans,” you have to love it.
September 2021: Womp Womp
Having put their thumbs behind them, the Mets came into September with a skip in their step on the field, even as, off the field, the team’s acting GM Zack Scott was placed on administrative leave following an arrest for driving while intoxicated after a fundraiser at Cohen’s home. A week after having been 7.5 games back in the division, New York won its sixth game in a row with a hectic 11-9 win over the Nationals (“We had them the whole way,” Cohen joked of the game) to climb back to within three games of the top spot in the NL East. On September 5, the Mets beat Washington again in a 13-6 contest that featured the streaky Báez going 4-4 with three runs scored and a solo home run.
“Where are the Twitter ‘experts’ complaining about Baez now,” Cohen tweeted (mustering the same tone of vague affront typically deployed by the very garden-variety reply guys he sought to dunk on). “They must be away for the weekend.”
That was on September 5. It was all downhill from there. On WFAN, host Marc Malusis complained about Cohen’s online presence; his willingness to respond to “every Tom, Dick, and Harry” online. “The man’s got rabbit ears!” Malusis yelled, adding that he was also annoyed at Cohen’s smarmy defense of Báez. “He’s one of the guys that criticized Báez!” complained Malusis, and he had a point: The proof was right there in the posting, from August 18.
The Mets drifted further and further from relevance: 4.5 games back, then five, then 7.5. A New York Post piece on September 15 reported that the team was struggling to land quality executives, with top talent feeling spooked not only by the team’s 2021 management carousel but also by the owner’s carnival barking online. “Cohen is out there tweeting about the organization and about stuff that he shouldn’t be tweeting about like he’s a fan,” the Post quoted “a former executive” as saying.
At this, Cohen—who hadn’t tweeted much in September, save for an oddly hangdog note that said “I know how much all of you care about this team. It doesn’t go unnoticed”—sprung into online action, not only rolling his eyes at the report but also turning it into a contest. “The person who can guess the source correctly will have the opportunity to sit with me in my suite at Citifield,” Cohen tweeted, later expanding the sweepstakes to have three winners. (Both Post writer Mike Puma as well as the person Cohen later named—his recurring bugaboo David Samson—have denied that Samson is the source.)
Since then, as the Mets failed to capitalize on the chance to remain atop an unexpectedly weak division and missed the playoffs, Cohen has remained mostly mum. (Speaking of being mum: As far as I can see, in all his Twitter chatter, Cohen has never tweeted the words “Luis” or “Rojas,” which almost certainly does not bode well for the manager’s future after this season.)
This week, when the Wall Street Journal reported that the Mets had hired a company to help make the team more appealing to young audiences—an effort said to include possible stand-up shows and other special events—an NYU professor cracked that the Mets already excel at live comedy, and that maybe they should stick to focusing on playing better baseball.
“Rough crowd” was all Cohen could muster.
October 2021: The End of the Beginning
With the season now over, where do the Mets go from here? There are decisions to be made in a number of realms, from the executive level to the dugout. The Mets are said to be pursuing general managers like Theo Epstein or Billy Beane, and the conventional wisdom is that Rojas will likely be replaced as skipper. New York also has several free agents to grapple with, including Báez and Syndergaard—who made two brief appearances in the team’s final handful of games for the first time since 2019, with mixed results—as well as Conforto.
For the time being, Cohen’s social media presence contains no new insights or even tea leaves as to what’s next in Flushing. His social media production has dropped off precipitously; he has yet to tweet in October. But perhaps that’s to be expected. It is, after all, a long and grueling season in major league baseball, especially when you’re still just a rookie.