Under The Knife 5/3/23
Cohen's Big Plan
Steve Cohen isn’t going broke by spending $353 million and invoking the “Cohen tax” with his Mets. Instead, it’s just a base or maybe even a toy. The Mets’ sole owner is spending big lobbying for a casino license, with plans to build it on the Citi Field parking lot. Essentially, he bought the space for a casino when he bought the Mets.
It’s not just a sports book either. This is one of three full casinos to be built in the near future in NYC. Lotteries funded a lot of things when I was a kid, but now it’s casinos everywhere. Times Square is one likely spot, but Cohen’s Queens advantage is locals wouldn’t have to “go into the city” and he’ll have lots less constraints on building than the Manhattan plans.
Add in that the City Football Group - Manchester City’s global empire, financed out of Abu Dhabi and owners of NYCFC - will move out of Yankee Stadium and into their own privately financed 25,000 seat pitch next door to Citi Field. Oddly, Sterling Properties, the Wilpon family’s holding company, is one of the developers! It adds yet another reason for people to head to Queens and maybe to the casino instead of just jumping back on the subway.
Will having a full-on casino next to a ballpark change things for the Mets? I don’t know and with the Athletics buying casino-possible land in Vegas, Cohen might not be the only one for long. People are bitching about advertising patches, but how about the Hard Rock Queens having its bright neon flashing into the ballpark?
If there’s a casino, there’s bound to be a hotel. If there’s a hotel, it’s bound to be big and flashy, perhaps taking on the form of a giant guitar. No, I mean GIANT:
Do that in blue and orange, put it in a location that shows up on TV, and the Mets won’t just be spending money, they’ll be printing it. Cohen will have turned a $2B investment into the basis for what is estimated to make $1.9 billion in revenue by 2025. Nice return and all for Uncle Steve.
I’m certainly no prude here. I worked for FanDuel, back before employees could say it was gambling (it was, it always was). I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with baseball cashing in and frankly, the owners wouldn’t care. There’s too much money to be made and if a casino can be added to the ballpark village, then we’re going to have to get used to it. Tell your grandkids you remember when you didn’t have to walk through the slot machines to get to the field, then watch them roll their eyes.
Cohen and Fisher, two owners on the absolute opposite ends of most things, might get first dibs, but get ready for gambling to get bigger in baseball. Just quit thinking any of this excuses what Pete Rose did. For now, on to the injuries:
BRYCE HARPER, DH PHI (sprained elbow/rehab)
As expected, Bryce Harper was cleared to play by Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday and made his debut Tuesday in Los Angeles. The Phillies are still saying the final restriction was sliding, but he’ll remain at DH-only for the time being. Part of this, I’m told, is that he’s not yet “game ready” at first base on a defensive basis, but a team source tells me the quick rehab still has some worried that a hard throw from the outfield could be problematic, despite having been cleared for it last month.
In his first game, not a lot went right for the Phillies. Harper went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts and the team lost 13-1 on a night where Julio Urias dominated. We really didn’t get to see any test for Harper, aside from his swing, which looked normal. The three K’s aren’t great, but Brandon Marsh had the same, with Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos having two each. I’ll put this one more on Urias and the pen than Harper’s elbow.
There’s no sign that Harper won’t be back out there today, facing Gavin Stone. We’ll know a lot more in a week than we do now, but having Harper back isn’t a rush, isn’t a miracle. It’s the result of medical science and a lot of hard work on the part of Harper, the medical staff, and ElAttrache. Put the credit where credit is due.
GERMAN MARQUEZ, SP COL (sprained elbow)
The Rockies announced on Tuesday afternoon that German Marquez will need Tommy John surgery. How it happened angered me and knowing that Marquez will now have his ‘24 option ($16m) declined makes me angrier still. From the outside, this was simple mismanagement, pushing Marquez back after a flexor tendon strain. Sure, this might have happened at any point, but when an athlete re-injures or exacerbates an injury so quickly, it was mis-read or mis-managed, or both.
If the Rockies do intend to decline the option, let me suggest they do it now and waive him. The team would be on the hook for Marquez’s recovery regardless, up to the point he signs with a new team. He loses no money, no rights, and perhaps another team picks him up to manage the recovery, even knowing he won’t play until mid-2024 at best. It would be a major league minimum now and then a “Lieber contract” for ‘24 and ‘25 potentially, where it’s a mutual option with bonuses for inning thresholds. Getting with a team that does medical well would be a bonus to him and cost the Rockies nothing, or even less.
LUIS GARCIA, SP HOU (inflamed elbow)
JOSE URQUIDY, SP HOU (strained shoulder)