The Mets’ first game with Steve Cohen as their primary owner will feature a guy in the national television booth who was part of a group that made a strong bid to snatch the prize away from Cohen.
Will that be awkward? Uncomfortable? Strange?
"It’s not strange at all," Alex Rodriguez said Wednesday on a video news conference to promote ESPN’s coverage of the 2021 season, starting with Mets at Nationals on Thursday night. "We gave it a great run.
"The Mets are a fantastic franchise with a great fan base, and I think this ownership is going to do a fantastic job."
Rodriguez said he would not avoid the topic if it were to come up during the game, but he said he does not think that is the most important story of the night. The game is.
"It’s a dandy," he said. "It’s full of great story lines. The last thing people want to talk about is my boring bid to buy the Mets."
Rodriguez said one appeal of the franchise for his group, and one that should work for Cohen, is that a new owner is arriving at a time when Major League Baseball’s economy has been stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They have very much a competitive advantage," he said, "where you had 29 teams that were bleeding, and you had one owner that’s coming in hot and ready to win a world championship . . . Certainly that’s how we were looking at it, coming in with dry powder and being able to make an impact."
What sort of owner might A-Rod be? He said his "North Star" as a role model would be George Steinbrenner, who owned the Yankees when they traded for Rodriguez in 2004 and won the World Series in 2009.
On paper, both the Yankees and Mets should be strong, something Rodriguez believes is good for the game.
"I think any time the New York teams, not just in baseball, but in all sports, when they’re doing their thing, it’s something that’s very good for sports," he said.
"New York needs a shot of great news, energy. I think the Mets and the Yankees will provide that this year in a big way. It’s exciting when you have Goliath versus Goliath, and it seems like that’s the case now and for the future."
Rodriguez said the Yankees are "poised to make a lot of noise" and endorsed the return of Gary Sanchez as their catcher.
"I think keeping Gary Sanchez was brilliant, and I think he’s going to have a monster year," Rodriguez said. "I like players with a chip on their shoulder . . . He is hungry, and when you have a player who’s hungry with something to prove and a contract to play for – look out."
Rodriguez and his play-by-play partner, Matt Vasgersian, will work off monitors at ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut, studios. ESPN hopes to send them to stadiums within a few weeks.
Entering his fourth season with ESPN, Rodriguez is a lightning rod among fans and viewers, just as he was during his playing days.
Said Rodriguez, "When you do the national game, the one thing you’re not is you’re not the common voice that they’re used to listening to . . . It’s just a business that you’re never going to have everybody’s thumbs up."
Mostly, he said, he just enjoys still being around the game.
"I’m a baseball nerd," he said. "I can talk baseball all day long. It’s what I love to do. I miss going to the games, I miss playing, but this is the second-best thing."