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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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Enough With the Selling

The Mets lost a squeaker, as Jose Reyes smacked a ground ball to Gaby Sanchez with two outs in the ninth and the tying run on third. Damn — particularly with Angel Pagan having looked a bit leisurely on a ball off the wall that arguably led to a fatal extra Marlin run. Still, the Mets fought back and played well other than that blip, with Ike Davis tripling (Ike’s right — he’s not that slow once he gets moving) and Josh Thole chipping in two more hits and making a nifty tag play at the plate on a short hop. For the first time in a while, I was a bit surprised we lost, and didn’t want to throw anything after we did.

What makes me want to throw things? It’s the constant peddling of messages. Take a recent sampling:

1. From MetsBlog, regarding Omar Minaya’s chat with the media: “Minaya still thinks the team is in the playoff race, and says they are trying to win games and hopefully they have a run in them down the stretch.”

2. Jerry Manuel last week, saying his priority isn’t developing young players: “That’s not the case. The case is to win games and put what you think is the best team out there.” (Why? Because he thought the .500 Mets were within reach of a playoff spot.)

3. From the middle part of Adam Rubin’s three-part series on where the Mets are and where they might be going: “While a team official suggested the discussions have not yet advanced to this level, he acknowledged one possible course of action is to sell a youth movement to fans and trumpet the home-grown players.”

Sigh.

1. We’re not still in the playoff race.

2. We’re not still in the playoff race, so that should damn well be your priority.

3. ARRGGGGGHHHH!!!!

I’ve given up wondering why the Mets worry so much about what everybody might say about them, and so little about what they ought to do. It’s maddening, but it’s not going to change. A while back Greg observed that the Mets don’t bother locking barn doors at night, but worry terribly how they will be perceived should a horse be seen trotting down the highway the next morning. That pretty much nails it, alas.

So, in that vein: Fellas, quit trying to sell shit to me.

For casual fans, Citi Field is a nice place on a summer’s night whether the Mets are 10 games over .500 or 10 games under. It’s clean and nice and there are lots of bathrooms and you can get Shake Shack, Taqueria, or both. Whatever some of us in the fanbase may feel about attention paid to team history, that Ballpark on a Summer Night part is fixed. It ain’t Shea, so stop worrying about it. (Well, OK, the people you employ are getting rude and/or incompetent again. You could work on that. But the rest’s fine.)

That leaves the rest of us. I can read the standings. I know how our club stacks up against the Braves and the Phillies and the Giants and the Cardinals and the Rockies and the Dodgers and the Marlins. Don’t tell me we’re in the hunt when I had to write down that many names in late August. And I know who’s young and who’s old and who’s cheap and who’s expensive and who’s homegrown and who’s an import. If next year’s roster is young and cheap and homegrown, I’ll know it’s a youth movement. I won’t need anything trumpeted. I won’t appreciate anything trumpeted. “Ballgame tonight” will be enough, just like it always has been. I’ll make up my own mind regarding the rest, just like I always have.

You don’t need to sell to the first group of fans. You can’t sell to me and all the other people like me. So please, just stop selling.

You want a message that will work on me? Stop talking and do stuff. Get guys who cannot help this team off the roster, even if it means a financial hit and a couple of days of articles about what a waste of money they were. Get the guy who’s a horrible tactical manager out of the dugout in favor of someone who won’t do so much active harm. Get the GM who can’t seem to enter an offseason with a coherent plan out of his office in favor of someone who can. (And then get out of that guy’s face and let him work.) Figure out what’s most likely to win games down there on the field when a playoff spot is actually within reach, and make it happen.

Do that, and you don’t have to say a word. You could say nothing, and other teams would start hiring mimes and monks. Continue to get in your own way while failing to do that, and everything you say makes it worse.

24 comments to Enough With the Selling

  • Dak442

    Didn’t they try a ridiculous slogan like “bring your kids to see our kids” in the 70s? It sounded desperate then (and I was a kid) and it sounds worse now. I don’t need a lame campaign, just make the team better. Hire qualified people.

  • metsadhd

    AS MY SON THE POET,WOULD SAY.
    Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
    To the battlement goeth the fans.
    Let the revolution begin

  • Kiner's Coroner

    The slogan of “We Believe in Comebacks” has turned out to be quite ironic, given that the team is something like 2-47 when trailing after seven innings. Perhaps the slogan for 2011 should be “You Gotta . . . Oh, Forget it, Who Are We Fooling?”

    • LWFS

      “Catch the Rising Tide of Self-Delusion”
      “As Long As You Look Over Here, and Keep Looking Over Here, It Looks Like the Magic is Back!”

  • Pipe dreams. Sadly.

    I’ve given up on the Mets having an actual working plan on being a consistently winning team. All I hope for now is lightning in a bottle. It’s all that’s left.

  • Guy Kipp

    It reminds me of when a politician or a political party loses an election and the meme becomes “There was a problem with the messaging.”
    In either case, it comes back to contempt for the perceived lack of intelligence of your target market.

  • Joe D.

    Jason,

    What is also upsetting is that Gary, Keith and Ron are subtly becoming homers like John Sterling and company by now saying that “every game is important” and constantly showing us updates for Atlanta and Philadelphia as if we are in the race tightly.

    Even in 1973, until the Mets started moving up that last month, Lindsey, Bob and Ralph weren’t calling any games in August as being important. In fact, the New York Post was instead calling for the fans to decide who should be fired.

  • Inside Pitcher

    Well said Jace.

  • Andee

    If the Wilpons told a prospective GM candidate that they intend to just keep their mouths shut and sign the checks, would the GM candidate actually believe it? Supposedly, that’s what they told Omar they were doing, and that’s obviously false (or at least, it’s been false for about 3 years now).

    THAT is the kind of obstacle we’re up against here, folks. Why would someone like Pat Gillick, for example, come out of a perfectly peaceable retirement to deal with that kind of gaslighting atmostphere? Why would a Paul DePodesta want to shred what’s left of his reputation on this ownership, knowing that the New York sports media is about a million times more vicious than the one in LA he got shredded by the first time? They have one Bill Plaschke; New York has about a dozen. And what good is firing Omar and replacing him with John Ricco, if Ricco’s basically already doing the job in all but title?

    The Wilpons have this idee fixe that they are the modern-day O’Malley family, not realizing that the O’Malleys sold out to Fox for a reason: they couldn’t keep up. Look, it happens to every damn ownership sooner or later; what worked in the past eventually stops working. If the new norm is to sign players to expensive, multi-year contracts as soon as they’re eligible for arbitration, then they’d better have more rigorous analysis of players’ abilities than “the press loves him.”

    And they’ll never sell, not short of Fred and Jeff both coming down simultaneously with inoperable astrocytomas. (And no, I don’t wish that on them, either.) So what can they do? Well, for starters, they can step forward and take responsibility publicly for their shit pile, instead of playing dumb about it. That’s something they’ve never done before, just saying, “You know what? We’re in over our heads here. We admit it. We’ve been sticking our fingers into every pie and blaming everyone but ourselves, and we’re done with that. It’s our fault. We don’t blame anyone for not showing up, but we want to hire people who understand this new world better than we do, so the fans will have a reason to turn out. If that means we dump half our existing contracts in the woodchipper, so be it.”

    And then, maybe they’ll have a shot at attracting people who know what they’re doing.

    • shea73

      I think you hit the turd on the nose. I could not have said it any better than you.

    • It’s even worse than you think — they have done that and said that. They said as much in the Verducci article Greg linked to a while back. And yet here we are again. It’s beyond maddening.

      • Andee

        Did they say that? I read the Verducci article, and I saw where F. Wilpon said something about keeping the baseball and business operations separate, but I didn’t see anything about him promising not to meddle in either one.

  • In other news, 17 days ’til Giants/Panthers.

  • Flip D.

    Amen, Jason!

  • metsadhd

    andee
    you and your idie fixe
    if I want intellectual stimulation,I would never be a Mets fans.
    Seriously, you are both erudite and apt.
    I vote the fafif site as having the most intellectuals in their visitors.
    Mets are and always a poor excuse for comic relief.
    Cant wait to go back to my Franz Wright and Edith Wharton
    If i am to live in the past it may as well be the distant past.

  • LWFS

    One wonders… are they this full of bullspit, or are they actually this self-deluded– that is, are they willfully selling themselves, too?

    I don’t know which option makes me feel worse, frankly.

  • Would you rather root for a team that turned to its fans and said, we’re 9.5 games back in the division and 7 games back in the WC with 36 games to play, and while we know that a number of other teams in recent years have made it to the playoffs under these circumstances, we can’t. Sorry.

    What do you expect them to say? I, for one, hope they believe it.

    • C’mon Dana, that’s a bit of a straw man.

      I’d rather they say something along the lines of, “We certainly haven’t given up, but we have to be realistic about the numbers and our chances. We think a lot has gone right this season, and a few things have not, and without raising the white flag, our priorities are I think understandably shifting to building on those successes, addressing those missteps, and preparing for a 2011 season we believe can end with a World Series title here at Citi Field.”

      And more importantly, I’d like them to then do it.

  • Tom in Sunnyside

    While I am not a farmer, and nor do I play one on television, I do know that if you lay the manure on too thick the plants won’t grow and you’re left with a field covered with crap.

    I hope that analogy serves the Mets well. On the plus side, Stub Hub prices have come down precipitously in the past few weeks. At the end of last year you could buy a ticket to a Braves game for a dollar. We may be heading there again.

  • Jason, isn’t that more appropriate talk for the end of the season? Or for the point at which it’s virtually mathematically impossible to win? All I’m saying is that these expressions of optimism are not just an effort to sell something. They are appropriate discourse for this stage in the process. And they are not totally absurd. Things are, though, I think, getting darker after the last two games, but look at what has happened with Atlanta and Philadelphia in the past few days. If the Mets had won the past two, they would have been 7.5 out in the division and 5 back in the Wild Card. What I am saying is that you (and many others) were calling the season lost before it actually was lost. And the Mets have an obligation not to do that.