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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Never Waste a Good Crisis

REMINDER: TONIGHT, 7:00 PM, IS AMAZIN' TUESDAY AT TWO BOOTS TAVERN. BRING A METS BASEBALL CARD, GET A FREE BEER. HEAR FROM SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE METS WRITERS. WATCH THE METS MAYBE BEAT THE NATIONALS TWICE IN A ROW. Full details HERE.

Even by 2009 Mets standards, yesterday was a bizarre day, one marked by two doses of good news and one dose of distraction.

The distraction was SI's report that the Mets turned down a package of Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell and Ruben Tejada for Roy Halladay. Why is that a distraction? Because I don't believe it's true — not for a New York minute. If it somehow is, and Omar Minaya really turned it down, he should be ridden out of town on a rail. (Well, he should be ridden out of town on a rail anyway. We'll get to that in a second.) A Triple-A starter with potential, a reliever who throws hard but gets knocked around, a prospect who can't stay on the field and a 17-year-old roll of the dice for a 32-year-old ace who's one of the best pitchers in the game? That's Johan II — a deal you say “yes” to so fast that you choke trying to talk and wind up text-messaging the word to J.P. Ricciardi and even then you're shaking so hard you wind up typing something like y yesss s.

Distractions aside, the first bit of good news is that we got to play the Nationals, who are useful at arresting headlong plunges such as ours but otherwise a disgrace, a shoddy trick played on good fans of a city left too long in the wilderness. Jeff Francoeur and Livan Hernandez had fine nights, which in a better world would lead to them immediately being traded for whatever they might yield in return. In this world, it leads to a garbage-time win. (If that’s short shrift for a rare Met victory, my apologies. I’m happy, but what does it really change?)

The second bit of good news was the report that Jeff Wilpon told Omar and Jerry Manuel that their jobs were safe. You might ask why that's good news, considering our front office…

  • manages a major-league roster as if the roster limit were 22 guys
  • either employs incompetent physicians or competent ones whose counsel goes unheeded
  • makes trades that suggest statistical analysis is conducted with an abacus, a phrenology text and dog-eared issues of Sports Illustrated
  • seemingly bids against itself to sign fat, old and bad players to guaranteed deals; and
  • is otherwise dysfunctional in an endless parade of quietly depressing ways.

The answer for why it's good news is that it's the Mets, and these days when I hear news from the baseball-operations side of the Mets' house, I simply assume the opposite of what's being said is the truth.

  • Player X did not suffer a setback in rehab = Player X suffered a setback in rehab
  • Player Y is day-to-day = Player Y will be out for at least six weeks
  • Omar and Jerry are safe = Omar and Jerry are in serious trouble

Actually, I'm not campaigning for Jerry's ouster — his strategic reliance on small ball and adulation of grit and other intangibles is irritatingly Neolithic, but I think the effect of such things is ultimately fairly small, and Jerry strikes me as a pretty good players' manager. But the front office is another story. It's a shame that the rash of injuries that doomed the season will probably keep Omar and his various feckless or reptilian lieutenants safe from a just reckoning for everything else they've screwed up.

Which is the increasingly inexplicable part.

We all know the Met brass are thin-skinned about bad PR — it's been a weird, vaguely sad obsession in Flushing for years now. But now the Mets repeatedly suffer self-inflicted, Seinfeldian disasters in their efforts to escape bad press. This would be hilarious if it were happening to the Pirates (come to think of it, it routinely does happen to the Pirates), but unfortunately we're talking about the team I love.

Beat reporters and bloggers from all ends of the spectrum reflexively doubt anything the baseball-operations people say. Stories about front-office dysfunction spread often and easily, with no one inclined to disbelieve them. The handling of injuries is so comically inept that players have reportedly complained to the Players Association. (Now there's a way to attract top-tier free agents!) Manuel's “surgery on Thursday” crack wasn't the smartest thing for an employee to say, but he was only saying what everybody who watches this team thinks all the time. Avoiding bad PR? The Mets have become a factory for it.

I've accepted that 2009 is a season from hell. I’m not happy about it, but I know some seasons come up snake eyes. What's harder to accept is that the front office has turned Citi Field into the Augean stables of baseball operations. Unless we get to play the last 72 against the Nationals, it’s time to clean house.

* * *

I'm off to San Diego Comic-Con and Maine (because that's a logical itinerary). I fully expect Greg will have this season pointed the right direction by the time I return. Right partner?

* * *

It's all Fear right now, but sometimes you gotta have a little Faith. Get your copy of Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

5 comments to Never Waste a Good Crisis

  • Anonymous

    As mentioned on WFAN this morning, The Mets havde gotten through the difficult part of their schedule and now have an easy schedule the rest of the way. Now it gets tough for the Phillies. If the Phils play .500 ball the rest of the way and the Mets go 45-25, the Mets win this division.
    Teams do go 45-25 in a 70 game stretch.
    This could be a case to make that deal for Ray Halliday this year.

  • Anonymous

    Enjoy your trip, Jason.
    The mistakes Omar made were signing an aging Moises Alou to play left and disassembling our 2006 core of middle relievers, replacing them with the likes of Scott Schoenweiss, etc. He made up for this with getting rid of Milledge and re-assembling our bullpen (don't forget Putz has been injured). He also went overboard economically with the contracts offered to Perez and Castillo (although I don't think it was such a bad move retaining both their services). As far as putting together a competitive team, overall he has done the job. They just didn't perform up to their potential and choked down the stretch.
    I would like to know who is responsible for allowing the attitude problem to continue through 2007 and 2008. There was an obvious lack of hussle and hot dogging by so many. I suspect it to be ownership, which also put together medical staff which seems to be comprised of medical students and interns. You already know my feelings about the WIlpons regarding the dimensions of Citfield.

  • Anonymous

    45 and 25? I'd be happy with winning streaks that surpass one.

  • Anonymous

    Without Manuel managing better, or at least 2 of our guys coming back, I'm not sure 45-25 is that realistic. I also don't know that they need that. How about winning the games that count? Get someone back healthy and beat the Phillies head-to-head 7/8. Then the Mets only need to play four games better than the Phillies the rest of the way.
    What concerns me is that Mets management seems to get the least out of players, while the Phillies seem to get the most. J.A. Happ? how? Even Mayberry comes up and bashes some home runs. Fernando Martinez comes up and sucks and gets hurt. The bullpens are a prime example last year. The Mets got virtually nothing from anyone, while the Phillies guys excelled. Whether this is a major league coaching problem or a scouting problem, I don't know. Assuming things level out and the Phillies revert to playing to form, about .500, and the Mets can find some offense and win games? Well, certainly reasonable.
    But I don't want Halladay. It's more hte money than the prospects. Do we really want what's arguable a third of our payroll for 2011-2014 to be tied up in 2 players? Leaves no room for error elsewhere.
    I agree with you Jason, about the opposite message about Omar and Manuel. (Jeff's shot his mouth off before) I think they sense the rumblings, and sense that it's probably time for them to go, but they don't want to hear and read about it, and want to do it on their own terms.

  • Anonymous

    I think giving contracts to Redding and Livan were terrible decisions too — classic examples of teams being Neanderthals because players are “veterans.” Any warm body at AAA would have been an improvement over Redding, and the fact that Livan makes so many starts and pitches so many innings is a bad thing, not a good thing. You want as few innings out of a tomato can like him as possible.
    Re the medical staff, don't forget the Adam Rubin article arguing that the doctors have been fine, it's that the front office has ignored their advice. Which seems plausible to me.
    At any rate, time for the whole sad lot to pack their bags.