BRONX — When the New York sports world went to bed on Tuesday night, everyone expected to wake up and the following day to revolve around Aaron Judge and the Yankees. But in the middle of the night, Steve Cohen and the Mets said “hold my beer.”
The Mets’ surprise middle-of-the-night signing of Carlos Correa flipped the script on the Yankees and pushed them out of the spotlight on a day when the Bronx Bombers re-introduced Judge and named him the franchise’s 16th captain. It was a move that would have made The Boss George Steinbrenner smile in admiration and grimace at the same time.
But in the Bronx on Wednesday, there was no ill will or frustration with the Mets. The reaction was more excitement for their crosstown rival and baseball as a whole with both Big Apple ballclubs becoming more competitive on and off the field.
“Talked about in March. I mean, I think having two great New York sports teams is phenomenal,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said. “It’s phenomenal for the city. It’s phenomenal for the rivalry and I’m all for it. Like I was hoping we’d both be the last two standing. But it didn’t work out that way on either first part, but hopefully, it does this year.”
Still, in the history of baseball in New York, when both teams have been good it had been the Yankees that have always dominated the headlines and weren’t afraid to flash their vast wealth to lure big-name free agents. Under owner Steve Cohen, the Mets have taken over as the big spenders between the two clubs.
This offseason alone the Mets have spent nearly half a billion dollars on free agents. While the Yankees have not been slouches either, including giving Judge a massive nine-year, $360 million deal, they haven’t been the big spenders the Mets have.
In fairness, no team in the majors has. And the Mets usurping the Yankees on Wednesday didn’t bother the organization one bit.
“No, it doesn’t bother me,” Steinbrenner said. “Look, Steve’s put together a great team. We have a great team too. So it doesn’t bother me. The timing is what it is. I’m focused on today. I mean, all I know is our Yankee fans are very excited today.”
Former Yankees great and former baseball executive Derek Jeter echoed Steinbrenner’s comments about Cohen’s big spending in Queens. “I think baseball is better when the New York teams are better,” Jeter said.
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However, he also warned that just because you spend money doesn’t mean that a championship is guaranteed. Jeter pointed to the Tampa Bay Rays and what they’ve built as an example of a franchise that has been successful using a different approach.
“Just because you spend doesn’t guarantee you’re gonna win,” Jeter warned. “I think spending gives you a better chance year in and year out. The better players we have obviously they’re going to make more money, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’re going to win and it’s just hard to do. I think organizations are trying to be creative and outsmart others. I mean, spending gives you a better chance, I’d be lying if I said spending money doesn’t give you a better chance. But it doesn’t guarantee anything.”