Who Wants to Be the Next Mets Owners?
This morning's New York Post made it a lot easier to set up your office "Who's going to end up owning the Mets once the Wilpons have to repay their Madoff money?" pool, by running a helpful list of rich guys who, it claims, are in the running to buy at least a share of the Amazin's. Less helpfully, they're all a bunch of upper-mid-level Wall Street guys you've probably never heard of unless you go in for Goldman/Citi slash fic.
So, in the interest of informed gossip, Runnin' Scared herewith provides your crib sheet to the guys who may or may not be sharing the Citi Field owners' box in coming seasons:
- David Heller: Head of Goldman Sachs' securities unit, once rumored to be in line for the CEO job there until he made a crucial error last year involving equity derivatives volatility. Heller has also owned several minor-league teams, including the Quad Cities River Bandits and the High Desert Mavericks; between 2002 and 2004 he shlepped one Low-A team, the Wilmington Waves, around to three cities in three years in search of a better deal. Bonus brush with New York baseball stardom: At one point said he was going to bring in Don Mattingly and Cal Ripken Jr. as minority investors and move the team to Mattingly's hometown of Evansville, but didn't.
- Steven Starker and Ken Dichter: Starker runs the trading firm BTIG; Dichter founded Marquis Jet, which leases corporate jets to execs who want cheap tax writeoffs without all the mess of having to buy a jet and then figure out where to park it. More relevant: Starker is a former business partner of Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, and co-owns a ski resort with Rays minority owner Randy Frankel. Bonus brush with New York baseball stardom: Stood next to Johan Santana once.
- Anthony Scaramucci: Former Goldman Sachs real estate trader, now head of SkyBridge Capital, which describes itself as an "alternative investment firm." Scaramucci likes to play up his anti-Wall Street cred: He's authored a book called "Goodbye Gordon Gekko: How to Find Your Fortune Without Losing Your Soul," in which he tells a story about a time when he hit a game-winning inside-the-park home run in Little League, with the girl who dumped him in the stands rooting for the opposing team. (Though the moral is a regrettably traditional Wall Street self-improvement one: "Don't fear doing.") Scaramucci also looks to be a great quote, if bon mots like this are any guide: "Someone asked me, do you think Goldman is arrogant? I said, of course they're arrogant. And then the Goldman media guy calls me and says, you think we're arrogant? I'm like, dude, if you don't think you're arrogant, you have an even bigger problem than the one I think you have." Bonus brush with New York baseball stardom: Has promised to bring in Bobby Valentine, though unfortunately as a co-owner, not manager.
- Stuart Sternberg: That's right, the Rays owner his own self, who would presumably have to divest himself of his Tampa Bay team first, though as Jeff Moorad showed when he bought the Padres and didn't sell his Diamondbacks ownership share until two years later, MLB isn't too picky about ensuring that its competing clubs are owned by actual different people. On Sternberg's watch, the Rays have gone from laughingstocks to perennial pennant contenders, compiled baseball's best crop of young pitching talent, and tried without avail to get Florida taxpayers to build him a new stadium. Bonus brush with New York baseball stardom: Is used to complaining about the Yankees getting all the attention by now.
Given MLB's proclivities for preferring owners who are already known to members of their little club — much of Bud Selig's workday seems to consist of plotting ways to beat Mark Cuban off with a stick — Scaramucci would seem to be the longshot here, as he's outspoken and a relative baseball unknown. But then, a lot will likely be determined by how big a share of the Mets Fred and Jeff Wilpon end up having to sell: Sternberg, for one, would only enter the bidding if he could take over majority control of the Mets, likely as some sort of three-way dance like the one nine years ago that landed John Henry with the Red Sox, Jeffrey Loria with the Marlins, and Washington, D.C. with the former Expos. (Or he could just be floating the Mets rumor in hopes of kick-starting stadium talks back in St. Petersburg, as he's already not so subtly tried to do in recent weeks.) There's clearly a long way to go here; the Wilpons had just better hope they can settle on a winning bid before their $25 million in Seligbucks runs out.