Scratch Mike Piazza off the list of potential suitors to buy the Mets.
The franchise’s legendary catcher spoke with reporters on Wednesday at spring training down in Port St. Lucie, FL while visiting with the team, where the conversation naturally meandered toward the question of ownership.
“I’m going to have to look in my mattress or ashtray in my car,” Piazza said jokingly as he squashed any hopes of taking over the team (h/t MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo).
Fred and Jeff Wilpon, along with Sterling Equities, are continuing their search for a new majority owner of the franchise after a deal with hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen fell through.
Negotiations that would have seen Cohen take over 80% of the team for $2.6 billion began in December before governance issues derailed the takeover and sent the fan base into semi-hysterics.
” I’m in the car business. It’s not like buying a car… These deals are complicated,” Piazza said. “Mets fans rightly should be interested, obviously, it’s the future of the team.
The 51-year-old owned third-tier Italian soccer team AC Reggiana 1919 where he reportedly bankrupted the club after two years at the helm.
Now in his natural setting near a baseball diamond — he is managing the Italian national team at the 2021 World Baseball Classic — Piazza is opting to look at the ownership search through the players’ eyes. And he made it clear that it shouldn’t affect them.
“As a player, you just have to focus on playing. As long as the paychecks keep coming, your concern is just to play,” Piazza said. “It’s not like ownership doesn’t want to win. But the perception of just spending money to spend money to get you a winner is obviously not correct. You need the right blend of talent, of youth, of experience. You have to come together, you have to stay healthy so I found it advantageous to not get wrapped up in things that are out of your control.”
What the players can control is their improvement from a promising 2019 season that saw the Mets win 86 games and finish just three games out of a wild-card spot.
“Look, the team had a very good second half last year. I talked to [Mets manager Luis Rojas] earlier… I think they’re in good hands,” Piazza said. “I think it’s a very difficult division with the defending world champs [Nationals]. The Phillies are tough, Atlanta is tough.”