New Mets Owner Steve Cohen Suggests Turning ‘Bobby Bonilla Day’ Into a Big Spectacle

In Friday’s Hot Clicks: Steve Cohen’s idea to make July 1 more fun, a ridiculous college football ending and more.
Author:
Publish date:

Who says no?

Bobby Bonilla might have one of the best agents in MLB history. When the Mets released Bonilla after a disappointing 1999 season, he was still owed $5.9 million, and they didn’t want their fourth highest-paid player in 2000 to be a guy who wasn’t even on the team. So Bonilla and his agent came up with an idea to help the Mets out. They’d defer the $5.9 million payment until 2011, with an 8% interest rate, and have the team pay down the balance in annual installments of $1.19 million until 2035, a total of $29.8 million. The Wilpon family, which owned the Mets at the time, thought it sounded like a great deal. They figured they’d be able to afford the 8% interest because they’d invested heavily in a hedge fund that promised returns in excess of 10%, run by a guy named Bernie Madoff. 

When Madoff’s scheme collapsed, the Mets started pinching pennies but their obligation to Bonilla remained unchanged. Every year, on July 1, Bonilla gets a check from the Mets worth $1.19 million. With the MLB minimum salary around $560,000, Bonilla is paid more than twice what some key Mets players earn every year. 

As the Mets cried poverty and refused to pursue high-priced free agents year after year, the Bonilla contract became a sore subject for fans. Even worse, the payment schedule meant it would predictably be a topic of conversation every year in the heart of the baseball season.

But the Mets have a new owner, Steve Cohen, whose obscene net worth of $14.6 billion makes him by far MLB’s richest owner. A guy who once spent $141.3 million on a statue doesn’t care about a measly $1.19 million. 

Cohen is willing to have a little fun with the Bonilla situation. Replying to a fan on Twitter, Cohen suggested turning “Bobby Bonilla Day” into an actual ballpark event. He could get an oversized novelty check like a lottery winner and take a lap around the stadium. 

This is a tremendous idea. The previous Mets regime was plagued by a combination of joylessness and incompetence that made the team’s whole vibe kind of a bummer. Bonilla’s annual payments were only embarrassing because Mets ownership was stingy enough to make $1.19 million a consequential amount of money. That’s what you pay a back-end reliever! By celebrating the Bonilla payments, you remove the stigma associated with them and reinforce that these aren’t the same old Mets.

Cohen has only owned the Mets for a few weeks now, but his approach to ownership has already started to come into focus. He’s made his intention to spend money very clear and has been active on Twitter, mixing it up with fans and answering questions both humorously and seriously. He’s got more money than anyone would ever know what to do with, so he bought a baseball team to have some fun. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the typical alligator-armed MLB owner. 

The best of SI

Team-by-team NBA draft grades. ... 10 final thoughts on the 2020 NBA draft. ... The Warriors’ dynasty deserved a chance to leave it all on the floor. ... Here are all the numbers that made baseball in 2020 appropriately weird

Around the sports world

The Memphis Zoo named a giraffe “Ja Raffe” after Ja Morant. ... Canucks goalie Braden Holtby couldn’t get through the U.S.-Canada border because of his pet turtles. ... The NBA has launched a tampering investigation tied to the Bucks’ reported sign-and-trade for Bodgan Bogdanovic. ... Wrigley Field has been designated a federal landmark. ... Matthew Stafford’s wife, Kelly, called Michigan a “dictatorship” after the state imposed new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. ... Two pilots are under investigation after drawing a penis on radar to protest the punishment of a Russian soccer player.

What a wild finish for Tulsa

(That’s Tulsa’s third-string QB, by the way.)

Russell Wilson has some great receivers

Well, usually

The Seahawks’ defense, on the other hand...

Missing back-to-back seasons just isn’t fair

Kyler Murray is so slippery

ESPN does these all the time but they’re pretty fun

Ohio State needs an intervention

Not sports

A South Carolina couple found a coin collection worth $25,000 in their new home and returned it to the previous owners. ... The famed radio telescope at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory will be demolished after sustaining significant damage. ... For people missing Google Glass, Amazon just released Alexa-enabled glasses

The signs are trespassing on the tree, so...

This video isn’t as scary as I thought it would be but it’s still harrowing

A good song

Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.