New York Mets fans are chanting “Let’s Go Steve” upon hearing news that hedge fund manager Steve Einhorn of Greenlight Capital has earned the right to negotiate a $200M personal investment in this blogger’s beloved Metzies.
Or as the ever tone-deaf to PR Mets’ management put it in the team’s newsletter called The Flushing Flash, “New York Mets Select David Einhorn as Preferred Partner.” [One O’Dwyer wag said the Flushing Flash sounds like it covers the toilet bowl industry.]
The FF headline implies that Mets ownership spearheaded by Fred “We’re Snakebitten, Baby” Wilpon (New Yorker quote) had tons of suitors for a team -- currently in next-to-last place in the six-team National League East -- that is “bleeding cash,” (Wilpon’s comment in Sports Illustrated).
The truth of the matter: Mets management, which is being sued $1B in the Madoff mess, held out a tin cup and hoped someone would contribute without demanding a majority stake in team ownership.
Enter Einhorn, a diehard fan who wore a homemade Mets uniform for Halloween when he was a kid. Steve has potential to shake things up.
Yesterday, he took on Microsoft, where Greenlight owns a 0.11 stake, demanding that CEO Steve Ballmer step down. Einhorn told a New York investor conference that Ballmer (pictured) is the biggest “overhang on Microsoft stock” because of missed opportunities in places like the tablet, which is now owned by Apple’s IPad. Ballmer is “stuck in the past,” said Einhorn.
The same could be said about the Mets ownership under Wilpon, who believes the golden age of New York City baseball occurred when the Dodgers ruled Brooklyn. It was his decision to construct Citi Field based on the designs used for Ebbets Field. Citi’s rotunda is a shrine to the Jackie Robinson and the Brooks, a move that turned off many Mets fans who boast of their team's colorful history.
To its credit, Mets management listened to the fans and opened a Hall of Fame and plastered banners throughout Citi Field to celebrate heros and bums of the past. If Einhorn is willing to take on Microsoft management based on a less than one percent ownership stake, just think how empowered he will be with a much larger investment stake in the Mets.
Let’s Go Steve.
(Ballmer photo: Reuters)