Just outside the window of Steve Cohen's office at Citi Field, a crane peeks its neck high into the air, finishing preparations for the installation of the largest video board ever to grace a baseball stadium. Off in the distance sits a 50-acre parking lot that Cohen envisions turning into an entertainment hub, a place people can gather before and after taking in a game with the team he has determined will be the biggest and best and smartest and winningest: the New York Mets.

Two years after buying the Mets for $2.4 billion, Cohen is settling into a number of character types -- some of them willingly, some assigned to him. For Mets fans, he is a godsend, the richest owner in the game, happy to spend his money to bring the team its first World Series championship since 1986. For locals, he is a salesman, though at least one who is soliciting their input on how the parcel of land can benefit the community. For some baseball owners, he is a pariah, an ostentatious, new-money dissident whose astronomical payrolls threaten the sport. For most, he is an inevitability. He seems the distillation of what a New York owner can and should be -- a godsend and salesman and pariah all at once, with broad enough shoulders to juggle the three. It's reminiscent of no one more than the archetypal New York owner, George Steinbrenner, who took a historic franchise in the Yankees and supercharged it into an international brand.

"George seemed bigger than life and passionate about baseball and brought a lot of life to the game," Cohen told ESPN last week in a rare one-on-one interview. "He made baseball interesting. And he did it his way. I'm going to do it my way. I don't know if I'm making baseball interesting."

Cohen undoubtedly is. With spring training a week away, the Mets enter the 2023 season as perhaps the most fascinating team in baseball -- and arguably the finest, too. Cohen guaranteed nearly $500 million to free agents this winter and will carry baseball's largest payroll ever in 2023. It runs in stark contrast to his predecessors, the Wilpon family, who operated the Mets more like mid-market straggler than big-market behemoth. But the Mets aren't simply following the blueprint of Steinbrenner's later years, either, by focusing only on free agency.

Spending, Cohen said, is just one part of the formula he plans to employ with the Mets. If there is a new product on the baseball side, Cohen wants to know whether it's worth trying. If other teams are excelling at player development, Cohen wants to know how the Mets can replicate it. If technology can enhance the fan experience, Cohen wants to be at the forefront.

Understanding the rhythms of baseball took time. It's a slow game and a slow business, lacking the everyday urgency of the hedge fund he runs. Still, plenty of similarities exist. In both, Cohen is hunting for value, relying on experts to inform him of the right moves and, most of all, trying to win.

"I didn't know I was going to have to spend like I did," Cohen said. "I actually was a little naive in that regard. But once I got comfortable and realized, OK, what's it going to take to put a great team on the field, I still had made a commitment to the fans, and to baseball, that I was going to come in and turn this thing around. I came in saying I'm all-in. And I keep my word."