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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Big Name Syndrome

There is a mathematical formula that can be applied to offseasons that follow bad seasons:

(Rumor X Big Name) + (Frustration ÷ Impatience) = Desire Logic

Usually you do the math, multiply it by too many years and add a big, fat $ in front of it. It’s how you get weighed down by contracts like those currently held by Jason Bay and Francisco Rodriguez. It’s how you wind up hoping your team will give one just like it to Carlos Delgado or Juan Gonzalez. You feel cared for when it’s signed, begrudged when it’s not.

That’s in December or January. There’s no telling how you’ll feel in July or August. Or the July or August that comes a year or two or three later, depending on how much you signed the person in question for and how long you committed.

Yet I understand the impulse. It’s a twitch in your system born of losing, or perhaps not winning enough. Somebody’s out there, he’s on your radar, he’s being talked about…Go Get Him…NOW!

Which brings us, maybe, to Sandy Alderson.

I’ve lived this long and have never before given more than the most passing thought to Sandy Alderson. I’ve only typed his name for public consumption twice, in these last two paragraphs. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the subject of Sandy Alderson, not based on these now three typings of his name.

But he’s undoubtedly the biggest name in the only free agent pool that matters at the moment, the one swimming with general manager candidates. A critical mass seems to be gathering behind Alderson’s candidacy, as if it couldn’t be anybody else; that if it’s anybody else, it would be a letdown. Like pursuing Delgado and winding up with Mientkiewicz.

I’m sure I don’t know if Alderson’s the guy for the Mets. He sure sounds good in the beau ideal sense. Who among us hasn’t wanted a bona fide grown-up, a sheriff to clean up this mess? When was the last time it felt as if somebody upstairs really knew what he was doing, and that our GM — Minaya, Duquette, Phillips — wasn’t on the outside looking in at his supposed peers? So often in the past umpteen years, the Mets give the impression that they’re not run like a genuine baseball operation. They’re run like the Mets.

Thus, it’s tempting to want to hand the reins to an accomplished Baseball Man, someone Widely Respected, someone with a Track Record. Alderson hasn’t even interviewed, yet I’m already sensing a disappointment in the making if he doesn’t get/take the job.

Which is probably the wrong instinct. GM’s aren’t ballplayers. They don’t have statistical profiles on the backs of their baseball cards (I don’t think they have baseball cards, either, which is kind of surprising). We can make educated guesses based on anecdotes from their previous postings and the records of their old teams, but there’s no video. There’s no knowing for sure if their circumstances were their own. How do you account for what owners were like at the last stop, or scouts, or underlings? And does any of it matter when what you really need next are ideas for where the Mets go from here?

Alderson may be the guy. Or maybe somebody with less of a name is a better option. Maybe somebody’s future will outshine Alderson’s past, and that person’s stature will grow as the Mets win. Or maybe Alderson’s best days are ahead of him, in Flushing, turning a quality front office career into a legendarily great one.

The Mets are taking their time deciding, which is fine. It’s recommended. This is a long-term decision, and the Mets shouldn’t be pressured or bullied into arriving at a conclusion because of a perceived lack of inaction. The offseason isn’t going anywhere. A GM will be chosen. A manager will be chosen. Players will be dispatched. Players will be acquired. An offseason will morph into a preseason before we know it. I want to head in that direction under the guidance of the best possible general manager available.

Whoever that may be.

No matter how swimmingly the Alderson interview goes today, stay in the water as long as you need to, Mets. Keep searching until you’re satisfied you’ve found with what you’re looking for…and then give it one more hard stare just to be sure.

Speaking of big names, a reluctant but fond farewell from Faith and Fear to our esteemed blolleague Coop as she clicks off the lights at My Summer Family and reverts to being a non-blogging Mets fan. We look forward to seeing you again next summer (or sooner) in real life, but will surely miss you always in these parts.

16 comments to Big Name Syndrome

  • Andee

    I think part of why people prefer Alderson has a lot to do with the fact that of all the GM candidates who have been talked about seriously, only he really has the stature to get the ‘Pons to keep their grubby fingerprints off his canvas. He won’t take their crap because he doesn’t have to. He has nothing more to prove, and he doesn’t need their money. Therefore, hiring Alderson would be a clear signal of a game change at the ownership level — that at least for now, they’re trusting the person they hired to do it right.

    It could be that one of the other candidates has more talent than he does, and it could be that the one they pick could well have the savvy to demand in writing that the GM’s decisions not be subject to meddling. If that’s the case, I have no complaints. But talent doesn’t mean much if it’s not permitted to be utilized.

    • Dead on. If he’s hired, much will be made of the fact that Alderson’s an old marine. Not enough will be made of the far more important fact (OK, let’s call it a highly educated guess) that he’s too old and has made too much money to take shit from Jeff Wilpon. And if he’s hired, not enough will be made of the welcome evidence that the Wilpons really are interested in changing their ways, and not just by intoning “full autonomy” like it’s a magic spell.

      In other words, with apologies to my esteemed co-blogger, “Go Get Him…NOW!”

      • The Wilpons will be interested in a few friendly back page headlines and giving the impression they are changing their ways. But if it works from a transformational standpoint, then sweet.

  • March'62

    Secret tape of Wilpon’s meeting with Alderson:
    Oh Sandy baby someday when the post-season is done
    Somehow, someway the two of us will be one
    Heaven forever and ever we will be
    Please say you’ll stay oh Sandy.
    (with apologies to John Travolta)

    Who says there aren’t GM cards? I’ll trade you a Jerry Dipoto for your Billy Beane.

    And I don’t care who they hire as long as they bring Wally Ball to our dugout next year.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    It sounds like he is the right person for the job. I believe I read alot about him in “Money Ball”. He brings the “Sabermetrics System” with him. The system is based on players on base %, walks, taking alot of pitches, no bunts or steals.

    Each out is precious. Do not give the other team any easy outs is the basic premise.

    I don’t know much about the other GM interviews.

    We just need to make a good choice now more than ever. I also think he will bring in a manager from outside the organization.

  • Rob D.

    I was having a conversation with some friends last night. Alderson would be the typical Met hire. He’s “safe”, has a good name, when it doesn’t work out the Wilpons can say, “But we hired such a good guy, look at his track record…”

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    I remember all the superlatives the Wilpons received upon their signing of Omar, citing his success in Texas and Montreal, but we’ve seen what has also transpired after his two initial seasons of success in New York.

    So we don’t know if Alderson or whomever is selected will become a Frank Cashin or Steve Phillips or somewhere in-between.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    “I always wanted to know what it was like to play meaningful baseball in New York and I’m going to have the opportunity.” Jeff Francoeur on the upcoming ALCS


  • dmg

    i have very pleasant memories of alderson at the oakland a’s in the early to mid 80s.

    maybe it’s just wishing, but he feels like the right guy, a cashen kind of guy.

    ah, if wishing would just make it so…..

  • I like going with an established professional who can clearly throw his experience around. I still would rather raid the Twins’ front office, but failing that, let’s bring someone in who can handle the weight of being the face of the organization. If nothing else, he is a significant upgrade over what we’ve had, and right now I’ll take it.

  • […] fully aware, at last, that the brand isn’t doing great, not at Old Navy, not at new Citi. The careful hunt for the right GM is great news for us. Put that guy in place and go after the right manager. When the Mets start […]

  • […] regarded” by “high ranking officials”.As Greg Prince pointed out recently, MLB GMs don’t have baseball cards, and as a result we as fans really have no clue on how “good” or “bad” any […]

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