Steve Cohen isn’t going to be the only new owner around Citi Field this season.
New Mets reliever Trevor May has signed on as a part-owner of a team in the fledgling Fan Controlled Football league (FCF), which bills itself in ALL CAPS as "THE FIRST-EVER PROFESSIONAL SPORTS LEAGUE THAT LETS FANS CALL ALL THE SHOTS."
Want to pick the coaches and players? Send in the plays? Even help design the team uniforms? Then the 7-on-7 FCF, which will begin play on Feb. 13, is for you.
And it’s for May, a 31-year-old righthander and vigorous social media presence who signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the Mets in December. It was the first free-agent signing of the Cohen era.
Cohen has been a ubiquitous, wisecracking presence on Twitter ever since he closed the deal to buy the Mets. May’s social-media chops include a ton of livestreaming on Twitch, the interactive livestreaming service for gamers that will be the FCF’s home.
"I’ve been Twitch streaming since 2016," May said this past week in a telephone interview. "I was a little bit ahead of the curve on that. It became a little bit of almost like baseball is my 1A job and streaming became 1B for a while."
May said his streaming really took off when he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and missed the 2017 season.
"I was streaming every day, like 40 hours a week," he said. "I like entertaining. I think, if it weren’t for playing sports, I could have very easily been a theater kid and went down that route."
Instead, he broke in with the Twins in 2014 and had his best season in 2019, when he went 5-3 with a 2.94 ERA and two saves. In the shortened 2020 season, May went 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA and two saves in 24 games.
May said he was first approached by the FCF in late October, just as he was entering free agency.
"I actually was contacted by just a cold email from a member of their P.R. team," May said. "They said, ‘Hey, we have this great idea. We know you are kind of plugged in to the streaming space and all that kind of stuff. Do you want to hear all about this new football league?’
"I was like, ‘I love sports. Let’s check it out.’ So I got on a call with a couple of the owners and they explained to me how. ‘We have a football league and the fans get to control everything.’ And immediately my ears perked up and I said, ‘Wow, that sounds like something completely revolutionary.’ ’’
May is a part-owner of the Zappers, one of four teams in the Atlanta-based league. The others (and their well-known athlete part-owners) are the Beasts (former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, WNBA star Renee Montgomery), the Glacier Boyz (NFL cornerback Richard Sherman) and the Wild Aces (Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler).
Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is the league’s most famous player. He signed up a few weeks ago to try to revive his professional career (again).
According to the FCF, fans will "make personnel decisions, including hiring coaches, and choose players for each team’s weekly roster via a fan-run draft . . . Real-time play calls will be made via FCF’s mobile app and custom Twitch extension . . . Fan play calls sent in real time directly to quarterback on field."
If that appeals to you, you may be wondering if May is willing to let Mets fans make some of his decisions. Fastball or slider? Up and in or down and away?
May isn’t willing to go that far, but it’s not a surprise to learn that someone who is as plugged in to interacting directly with fans has some thoughts about how it can be done in baseball. One of May’s ideas is a home run derby to settle extra-inning games, with the fans picking the contestants.
"I actually have thought about this a little bit," he said. "I think baseball’s a little different. Football’s perfect because of the play-calling and all the opportunities you’d have to get fans involved. Maybe not to this extreme, but I’ve been advocating for thinking of creative ideas to do this in Major League Baseball. Things like this — it’s all about access.
"I’ve kind of built my own brand around the idea of professional athletes don’t have enough opportunities to interact directly with fans. I think that’s what makes professional sports fun and engaging. Fans like to make human connections with the players. The more you can do that, the better."
In about a month, just as the FCF kicks off, May is scheduled to report to Port St. Lucie, Florida, to begin his first spring training with the Mets — his 1A job as a pitcher.
Like all Mets fans, May was thrilled when the team acquired superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco in a trade with Cleveland. May is familiar with both from years of AL Central battles. Lindor is 5-for-17 lifetime versus May.
"It will be nice to not have him in the batter’s box against me for a little bit," May said. "Frankie’s a leader. He has a great time playing the game. He likes to win. He’s been part of a really successful team. He’s a winner. I don’t think it could work out better. The timing’s perfect."
May hopes to meet his new teammates as scheduled in mid-February. MLB’s current plan is to start spring training on time and play a full season. As players get ready to report to Florida and Arizona, everyone knows COVID-19 could change those plans.
"If anything, I learned last year to plan that something’s going to happen and then just try to adjust the best you can when it changes," May said. "I spent a little more time than I would have liked last year projecting and trying to worry about things.
"As of right now, we’ve been told it’s starting on time. That’s exciting, and I would love to see the season go off without as many hitches as possible. Hopefully the vaccine is rolled out in a timely manner and we’re able to at least partway through the season get vaccinated and put this thing behind us."