SI.com: Do you get a sense that Mets fans have a sense of entitlement toward winning which Yankees fans have? Does a city like New York foster that, or are Mets fans generally more cautiously optimistic by nature?
Cohen: That’s a complicated thing to answer because I think the entire landscape of sports fandom has changed over the last 10, 15 years because of the advent of sports talk radio and the advent of the Internet. I think there is a lot more expectation and anger among sports fans in general than there was the last time the Mets had a large run of success. I think that fans are much less easily satisfied. There is this notion that if you spend the money, there should be this expectation of winning. So while I certainly wouldn’t say that Mets fans have the same level of expectation and entitlement that Yankees fans have, all fans in general have that to a greater degree than they did 10, 15 years ago.
SI.com: Look at what happened to Carlos Beltran this year. He was booed on Opening Day and ended the season as their best all-around player.
Cohen: Well, yeah. There has always been a certain level of booing in New York directed toward the big player, going all the way back to Mickey Mantle. I mean, nobody wants to remember that, but Mantle was booed as a young player; Roger Maris was definitely booed; Darryl Strawberry got booed. Big players have gotten booed in this town for a long time. I don’t think it is so much about the booing as it is the way in which fans can personally attack players on the Internet, message boards and on talk radio. The level of constant agitation and discussion regarding sports has changed.
SI.com: Is there any juice left for Mets fans from the great New York-St. Louis rivalry in the ’80s?
Cohen: No, I don’t think there is a shred of it. There is only one player left from the 2000 series, and that’s Jim Edmonds. They don’t play each other enough, and the turnover in players is such that it doesn’t really matter [to them]. You know, when you get to this point in the season, it’s all about winning championships, it’s not about beating any specific team. I mean, when the Mets played the Braves in the LCS in ’99, it didn’t have any more juice than when they played the Cardinals in 2000. It was all about winning the series, it wasn’t about who your rival was. At this time of year the Mets could play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the fans wouldn’t care, they just want them to win.
SI.com: That’s funny, because I was in St. Louis earlier this year and I spoke with a lot of fans who still refer to the Mets as “pond scum.”
Cohen: I think that’s more of a New York thing than a Mets thing. I think a lot of cities look at New York in a slightly disparaging way. We see it in Philadelphia all the time — it’s that smaller-city inferiority complex that every city has vis-Ã -vis New York.