The blog for Mets fans
who like to read

ABOUT US

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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at faithandfear@gmail.com.

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

Who Let the Dogs & Ponies Out?

“After tomorrow, we do what all ballplayers do: we shake hands ’til we see each other next season. Then we go fishing or hunting, make some personal appearances, get to know the wife and kids again.”
Morris Buttermaker

I’m all for accountability. I’m all for transparency. I’m all for proactivity. But sausage is not something I necessarily need to see get made. Just place it on a bun and get the Mets on a roll.

When did the Day After Media Blitz of Qualified Remorse become standard Met operating procedure? Didn’t they used to lose and simply go home?

Enough with the dogs and the ponies. Enough with the overblown pressers and inane interviews. Enough with the half-baked excuses and illogical alibis. Enough with the misguided Q’s and the flippant A’s.

Enough with the spin. Oh for god’s sake, enough with Jeff Wilpon’s and Omar Minaya’s and Dave Howard’s and Jerry Manuel’s spin. Enough with the Mets giving their all the day after the season is over. Enough with the Mets thinking they can win from a podium what they couldn’t come close to winning on the field.

You don’t win respect in a press conference. You don’t win credibility in an interview. You don’t win your fans over after losing their confidence along with 92 sullen baseball games. You can, perhaps, make inroads toward those concepts — as best you can away from the field — by demonstrating competence, sincerity and self-awareness. But the Mets didn’t do any of that yesterday.

They would have been better off staying home and shutting up.

The Mets issued two press releases Monday. One announced Jose Reyes’s impending hamstring surgery (for which we all wish him the best of luck) and the other outlined changes to the coaching staff. A fifteen-minute conference call limited to addressing follow-ups to those specific issues would have been appropriate.

Then, instead of parading a procession of dogs and ponies through the recesses of their collective thinking, the Mets should have hung up the phone; taken a few days off to fish or hunt; regrouped; and then returned to the work of remaking the Mets for 2010.

Stop trying to impress us that you’re on the ball by standing before cameras and microphones. None of us is impressed. None of us is encouraged. You make it worse the more you talk. You talk yet say nothing — nothing helpful, certainly.

We can’t make you make the right moves. We can’t set your trade and free agent agenda. We can’t direct your roster management or minor league development. We can’t dictate your budget. We can shout our recommendations until we’re hoarse (or type them ’til our hands cramp), but it’s up to you. We have to trust you to do the right thing. We have to trust the owner, the general manager, the head of business operations and the skipper.

None of you do anything to make us trust you, of course. We’re stuck with you. We’re stuck with your decisions. Don’t make them worse by explaining them. You don’t help your cause. You don’t cultivate our faith. You just anger us, sadden us, frustrate us.

Stop with the dog and pony show every time your season goes down in flames. Strive to make your seasons as flame-retardant as you possibly can. Don’t clear your throats unless you have something to say that will make you look good and make us feel better.

“I got a lotta time to hear your theories and I wanta hear every damn one of ‘em. But right now I’m tired and I don’t wanta think about baseball and I don’t wanta think about quantum physics. I don’t wanta think about nothing. I just wanta be.”
Crash Davis

I don’t know if Luis Alicea absolutely had to go. I don’t know what Razor Shines will bring to a new position. Perhaps Alicea was a liability and Shines is an asset. Perhaps these were the correct moves and tangible improvement will result by their respective dismissal and reassignment. I imagine a team that was as dim on fundamentals as this one was could use some fine-tuning of its coaching staff. I don’t disapprove of these decisions, nor do I approve of them per se.

The Mets elbowed Alicea and shifted Shines. They’ve got both Alomars ambling along. They kept Warthen, Niemann and Johnson. And Manuel’s still the manager. Is this is the prescription that’s going to cure a 70-92 basket case? I have no concrete idea. The pitchers pitched badly. Is that Dan Warthen’s fault? The hitters hit well with nobody on, dreadfully when it was time to drive runners home. Is that Johnson’s fault? What does a bullpen coach do exactly? Other than grow tomatoes back in Joe Pignatano’s day, I couldn’t tell you.

At some point next year, some announcer will reveal that some player says the reason he is doing well will be because he has been working on some aspect of his game with some coach. That will generate a positive vibe toward that coach. Then some other player will give up a home run or swing at a pitch out of the strike zone or throw to the wrong base, and we’ll wonder why that coach continues to be employed in his capacity. This is the way it’s always gone.

Thus, making the announcements regarding Shines, Alicea and the Alomars yesterday doesn’t tell us anything. When Jeff Wilpon huffs that the Mets’ performance in 2009 was totally unacceptable, firing or demoting a coach hardly makes it any more acceptable. Retaining Jerry Manuel as manager after the Mets experienced their second-largest one-year dropoff in wins (19, behind only the 22 fewer victories they racked up in 1977 versus 1976) doesn’t make their situation any more acceptable. Retaining Omar Minaya as general manager despite the overall deterioration of the franchise’s major league personnel since October 19, 2006 — building a team annually on approximately five stars and twenty question marks — doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

Nor does their saying anything make anything true. Dave Howard says very few fans expressed dissatisfaction with the obstructions at Citi Field. That’s not true, but if he says it, it’s good as the truth. Jeff Wilpon insists it was no big deal that the New York Mets obscured New York Mets history in favor of a Brooklyn Dodgers echo. That’s not true in that New York Mets fans noticed it and protested it, but it’s as good as the truth. Omar Minaya, who pretended the Mets’ collapses in 2007 and 2008 didn’t mean they were a deeply flawed competitive entity, acts as if injuries were all that was wrong with the 2009 squad. That’s not true…we saw with our own 6.3 million-plus eyes that it wasn’t true. But Omar said it, so it may as well be true.

All these untruths function as truths because those who decide our reality continue to spout them. You and I know different, but we don’t effect concrete change. We can stop buying tickets and wearing caps (even though Dave Howard says we should continue to do both, as both build character), but we know we’re unlikely to stop doing either or any of the associated acts of fandom. We like being Mets fans even if, yet again, we can’t stand the Mets.

I fell in love with this team forty years ago, right about now. On this date in 1969, the New York Mets came home to Shea Stadium and beat the Atlanta Braves to win the National League pennant. It was the second big thing I’d experienced the Mets clinching in less than two weeks. I didn’t know much about baseball, but I understood that what the Mets had just done was enormous. The next stop would be the World Series and the Orioles. It would be enormous, too.

I didn’t know who the owner was. I didn’t know who the general manager was. I didn’t know there were such things. I knew there was a manager, and he could do no wrong. I knew there were players, and they could do no wrong. Eventually I learned there was more to the Mets than them, that there was an owner, a GM, coaches, a whole organization. But they weren’t of interest to me. I saw their pictures in the yearbook, I saw their names in the paper now and then, but they weren’t why I was a Mets fan. I just assumed they were doing what they could to make me want to be a Mets fan even more.

That illusion would be shattered by M. Donald Grant when he shipped my innocence to Cincinnati and my naïveté to San Diego. Since then, I’ve assumed it’s in my best interest to pay close attention to everything owners and GMs say so I can better understand where my Mets are going. But I think I’ve heard enough from this owner and this GM and their accomplices. I think I know that what they say only brings me down.

Jeff, Omar… fix the team. Otherwise, just let me be.

More pointed and eminently thought-provoking takes on those who can stand to listen to these guys from Dana Brand and Caryn Rose. Dan Lewis chimes in with a pretty reasonable wish list.

28 comments to Who Let the Dogs & Ponies Out?

  • Anonymous

    Enough with the Mets thinking they can win from a podium what they couldn't come close to winning on the field.

    'Twas ever thus, going back to 2002, when Steve Phillips assembled an all-star team…the 1997 all-star team, but an all-star team nonetheless.
    That was the Mets first Winter Championship.
    The team really hit their stride, though, beginning in 2005 when they took home their second Golden Shrimp award for corralling Pedro & Carlos. It's a trophy that was fiercely defended in 2006 (Carlos II & Paulie), 2008 (Johan the magnificent) and 2009 (Frankie K. & the Big Putz).
    Ya gotta hand it to 'em: they're undefeated in February…

  • Anonymous

    Those I can handle — not the long-term non-results, but the announcement of something worth announcing. It's the morning after round of half-assed remorse that's lost its magic.
    J.J., we hardly knew ye Putz.

  • Anonymous

    I'm glad they confirmed that they'll let Omar acquire whatever he feels they need to acquire in terms of championship caliber team. It's probably not as much as people think. That's all I really wanted or cared about of the dog and pony show. They said they're going to add Mets stuff. good. I like Citi Field and Mets additions will only make it better.
    If people like Caryn want to bitch and moan and give up their seats, fine. That's their right. More room for the people that are going to make Citi Field 'intimate' by cheering the players and the team, not booing songs, the ownership, or the amount of ads. Because that's what makes a ballpark intimate. Not the ads, the between-inning entertainment, the food, the angle of the seats, or the ownership. It's the ability to band together with the other people there, suspend reality, and buy into the illusion and root for those 25 players on the field like their is nothing else in the world. Nobody chants “ooooh-Mar” when the Mets are doing good.
    I feel like the chat with Francesa was more about him and his rating and him getting to rip the Mets in his ignorant way to management.

  • Anonymous

    Would the Mets call a press conference or go on a media tour and announce “we're going to constrain Omar in his pursuit of players?” I don't think they've confirmed a thing.
    We all seek to perfect our fandom in our own way. Yours is valid. So is Caryn's. So is mine. Let's Go Mets, y'know?

  • Anonymous

    No, but I don't know if the Mets are dumb enough to repeatedly say they can and will spend, and will be aggressive in persuing free agents, and then not do anything.
    They could've given us cliches about spending wisely, They could've dodged the question. They could've said things about not wanting to overspend on players that aren't worth it.
    I'm sure most of the reason they agreed to go on Mike's show was to try to show people's criticism up. They listened to him bring up fair and unfair questions some Mets fans have. They answered them. They did seem snippy at some, mostly unwarranted and unneeded questions. They aren't going to come out and rip Oliver Perez, or tell fans they're releasing Daniel Murphy all on Francesa's call/show.
    There is too much anger directed at all things Mets by supposed fans. Too much of it is simply difference of opinion, and I just get defensive when people direct so much anger and hatred at something I love. Some of it's fair, some of it's not. That's why I chose the blog title I did. I try to separate the hatred and the anger at parts of the Mets club from the positive things that people seem to miss. Sometimes it feels like certain fans would rather see Oliver Perez fail, so they can be right about him, then have him succeed and the Mets win. It makes me feel like I'm talking to Yankees fans.

  • Anonymous

    “Dave Howard says very few fans expressed dissatisfaction with the obstructions at Citi Field.”
    Hi Greg,
    Stop exaggerating. You're just not used to sitting in the outifield.
    …..come to think of it, you still might not be used to it since there wasn't much of the outfield to see in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    Francesa was a horrible interviewer yesterday. “Some people think you guys aren't good — are you bad?” “No Mike, we're good.” Utterly pointless.

  • Anonymous

    Daniel Murphy and Gary Sheffield didn't see balls in the outfield either.

  • Anonymous

    It's sad that I regularly voluntarily put on Michael Kay when i'm listening to the radio in the afternoon.

  • Anonymous

    True. I tend to collapse all the pressers into one giant sinkhole of platitudes and stale cheese.

  • Anonymous

    Mets management reminds me of the school nurse at my high school. You could walk into her office showered in blood and she'd hand you an ice bag and send you back to class. Dumping a few coaches is just a cheap “look, we're doing SOMETHING” kind of move and everyone knows it.
    I'm a Met fan. I certainly do not expect pennants every year. I of course HOPE for it, but my expectations are realistic. All I really demand of my team is to be competitive and entertaining to watch. They failed dismally in those two departments in 09. A new first base coach won't do a lot to change that.
    Address the issues fans have with the new ballpark. Make it feel and look like home, the Mets home, that is. Then get to work on that roster because that's where the problem lies. Lip service is all well and good, but honestly, I've heard this song before. If this team comes out of the gate in 2010 stumbling, missing bases and losing a lot of games, the anger of 09 will seem like the good old days, especially for Omar and Jerry.
    But, on the plus side, at least this season didn't end with a crushing defeat after having our hopes re-inflated the day before. That whole thing was really getting old. After living through that, even a debacle like the 09 season doesn't sting quite as much. I'm a Mets fan, thus I'm awfully jaded, but I can still appreciate the little things.

  • Anonymous

    You take the kinds you're thinking of, process them through the long season, and you wind up with the ones like yesterday.
    But I imagine the food is better when they're hailing rather than when they're apologizing.

  • Anonymous

    I spent the last weekend of the '08 minor league season watching a meaningless Lakeland Tigers/Clearwater Threshers (Phillies) game, and had seats right behind third base. I was within shouting distance of Threshers third base coach Razor Shines.
    I spent the next-to-last weekend of the '09 regular season watching a meaningless Mets/marlins game, and had seats right behind third base. I was within shouting distance of Mets third base coach Razor Shines.
    If Razor's getting moved somewhere, I'm hoping they'll make up their minds soon.
    I need to plan my September 2010 road trip.

  • Anonymous

    One wonders what you shouted at Razor Shines.

  • Anonymous

    Francesa was often ill-prepared (he hadn't heard anything negative about CitiField, citing the 3.15 million attendance, the money spent on draft picks), but to my surprise he did nail them but good when they tried to compare Murphy to Kevin Youkilis.
    “But Youkilis has a .400 OBP and is a Gold Glove winner, and Murphy has a .300 OBP and is a bad fielder.”
    I had to admit that was well done.
    (Clarifying: I like Murphy. I dislike Francesa. But still.)

  • Anonymous

    “YOUR NAME IS RIDICULOUS!”

  • Anonymous

    I listen to MF as little as possible, but he's had a vendetta against Murphy all year and has laughed at that comparison in the past, so it wasn't new, even if it was well-placed.
    Sad part is Omar is making a comparison that some 'FAN caller has made between the two first basemen.

  • Anonymous

    “NO! IT'S RAZOR!”

  • Anonymous

    Omar comparing Oliver Perez to Justin Verlander would have been funny if it weren't my team's GM saying something so obviously preposterous.
    Can I have $20 million since Albert Pujols and I are both human males?

  • Anonymous

    Did you see the video email that was sent out? Jeff, I appreciate the effort, and I know you shouldn't seem happy after this 2009 season–but could you at least look like you care about the words you're reading off the teleprompter? Don't torture yourself Jeff, please.
    Whatever on the press conference. We've seen worse, y'know? And besides, it's all bullshit. They're going to spin that Marquis fills all our rotation needs and has so much valuable post-season experience (yeah, him and Mike Stanton), that Halladay wasn't worth the money, that Garret Anderson can put up comparable numbers to Holliday and brings a great veteran presence to the clubhouse–and of course, that drills on fundamentals aren't necessary.
    Mets, prove me wrong.
    Please.

  • Anonymous

    I get what he's trying to say, that just because a pitcher has a bad year doesn't mean we should throw them to the dogs. I understand that he wasn't going to rip Perez. But there probably was a better comparison, or a better way to put that. Don't site examples.
    Murphy was actually good defensively, and looks like he'll get better. Francesa only sees the blooper reel. I saw this elsewhere, the guy Omar should've compared him to is Bernie Williams, who had similar numbers in his rookie season(s). (couple more home runs, but Yankee Stadium vs. Citi Field)

  • Anonymous

    O, this Mets management. You'd think that they would try and emulate the best baseball practices … with elements taken from many successful clubs, like the NY Highlanders … the Red Sox, the Dodgers … even the “Moneyball” approach from the small-market Athletics.
    But no, the Mets take their tone-deaf management techniques from the world of the NBA [the Knicks] and the NHL [the Islanders, among many others].
    It's been said before by many. The Wilpons are the new Dolans.
    Congratulations, Fred and Jeff, Omar and David. Jerry too. You all beat out someone to become New York sports #1 laughing stock.

  • Anonymous

    this tigers-twins epic is doing wonders to rehabilitate my love of baseball.
    not the mets though.

  • Anonymous

    Greg: “We're stuck with you” (Mets)
    Nyet tovarich. Meta are stuck with us.
    Mets signed a 40 year commit in exchange for state/city benefits.
    They owe us but they they do nothing to keep us because they don't doubt our loyalty.
    I did not go to see the DeRoulet Mets very often (though I watched them often on TV. Real TV – Channel 9.).

  • Anonymous

    My buddy MetsFanSZ remembers that Razor platooned with Tim Raines at some point in his career, with the While Sox, I think. So whenever the lineup was posted, you had a left fielder, Raines or Shines.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it that you (and some other bloggers) can post things that are basically truthful and right (and well said), and you're just a fan, and the Mets can't do that, and they're the pros? I'm starting to think there's a problem in the Mets PR department too.

  • Anonymous

    DHM:
    1) Thank you.
    2) I wonder that myself. They don't have to have the same viewpoint as their fans, but why do they seem so determinedly off-kilter?

  • Anonymous

    That's the million dollar question. I learned on a Simpsons Halloween episode many years ago that with advertising, if you stop paying attention, it goes away. I wonder if the same will hold true with fans attending games at a certain NY ballpark. Of course that advertising was out to kill the people of Springfield and the Mets just give us angst, but we may find out next season what happens when fans stop attending if things don't straighten out.