It’s no fun to dream about it because it’s so unlikely: Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez won’t own the New York Mets because they’ll need to raise about $2 billion to make it happen.
It’s also fun to dream about it because it would be so delicious: The man who launched a thousand tabloid covers with his dalliances, his deceptions, and occasionally his dominance while actually playing baseball, taking over a famously dysfunctional franchise with his triple-threat spouse, who on Super Bowl Sunday showed the world she very much still has it, riding shotgun in the owner’s suite.
A Rod? J-Lo? The Mets?
It’s either so absurd that it must be dismissed, or too perfect that it has to happen.
Variety’s report that the power couple have partnered with JPMorgan Chase to raise capital for a bid on the franchise is certainly more sizzle than steak. It’s not an insignificant development, certainly, yet for now the movement is built largely on vanity.
After all, the J-Rods are estimated to be worth $750 million. The Mets were recently in agreement with minority owner Steven Cohen to turn over controlling interest in a deal valued at $2.6 billion; Forbes recently pegged the franchise value a little lower, at $2.2 billion.
That leaves a gulf of about $1.8 billion, assuming the happy couple want to maintain some liquidity for their now-postponed wedding and perhaps schooling costs for the four children in their blended family.
Jennifer Lopez and husband Alex Rodriguez arrive for screening of "Hustlers' at Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Sept. 7, 2019. (Photo: WARREN TODA/ EPA-EFE)
So the task now falls on JPMorgan – and, really, all of us – to play matchmaker.
In short, we need to find them some rich dudes.
Fortunately, canoodling with the well-monied is a longtime hobby of A-Rod’s. He and investor Warren Buffett – No. 4 on the 2019 list of richest Americans – have been tight ever since Buffett helped underwrite the insurance policy on Rodriguez's groundbreaking $252 million contract signed with the Texas Rangers before the 2000 season.
Rodriguez, Buffett told Vanity Fair in a 2017 interview, “has what I call a ‘money mind,’ meaning he instinctively knows many things about dealing with money that other people never learn and to some extent can’t be taught.
“A-Rod would have done very well in business if he had never seen a baseball.”
For his part, Rodriguez said Buffett imparted significant advice over the years, most notably that “cash is like oxygen: You need it, but you don’t need too much of it. You’d rather have your money in great businesses.”
Like, perhaps, a sleeping giant of a sports franchise in the country’s biggest market?
Certainly, Rodriguez won’t be hitting up his Instagram pal Buffett to try and shake loose a couple billion; you don’t accumulate an estimated net worth of $81 billion by being too generous with your friends. But the grander point is that Buffett knows people, who in turn know other people, all of whom certainly know what the price of this poker game might be.
And glancing at the top 10 richest Americans, it will probably take a handful of willing investors, rather than a singular white knight.
Jeff Bezos? A man accustomed to running his fulfillment centers like labor camps probably won’t take a shine to MLB’s unionized work force.
Bill Gates? Warren Buffett? Mark Zuckerberg? If they hadn’t before, why now?
Oracle kingpin Larry Ellison loves the sports, but is probably too West Coast to take a shine to the Mets – just like Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, who opted to buy the Clippers rather than revive basketball in Seattle. Google expats Larry Page and Sergey Brin aren’t the splashy sorts.
No, this would be something of an inside-out project: A-Rod and J-Lo providing the glitz while seeking the cash, rather than a billionaire looking for a leading man. Bruce Sherman, a retired money manager, found Derek Jeter, who is now the face – and the business and baseball brains – of the Miami Marlins, with a 4% stake that cost him about $25 million.
Mark Walter, hedge fund mogul, aligned with Magic Johnson in buying the Dodgers, though Magic’s stake isn’t huge and his biggest value seems to come in extending, in lockstep, the already significant brands of the Lakers and Dodgers as only he can.
Would A-Rod insist on being the “control person” for the Mets, despite holding a minority stake? Can you envision any other scenario?
Suddenly, we’d have A-Rod vs. Jeter all over again: The Hall of Fame shortstop pitting his buy-low Marlins against the scandal-ridden tabloid king’s well-monied Mets for NL East superiority.
You’d think someone would contribute $500 million toward the cause merely for theatrics.
That’s a long way away, of course. Ownership alliances are delicate and fluid, and someone else can always come along with a bigger stack of money, and then there’s the specter of meeting the Wilpons at the finish line, where Cohen’s deal for the club went awry.
So this is all just a dream, certainly. Just not a totally impossible one.
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