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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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The Mirabelle Mets

An unnamed spokesman for my favorite baseball team referred to a friend of mine as conducting a “desperate self-promotional campaign for relevance,” which is a shame. That’s no way for my favorite baseball team to act.

As for my friend, Howard Megdal, I will echo his sentiments regarding his new e-book, Wilpon’s Folly, and suggest the reader judge his work — and its relevance regarding the long-term fate of the New York Mets — by reading it. The “desperate self-promotional” charge is just ill-conceived noise on the part of the Mets. You’ve got a specific gripe, spell it out. Otherwise, declining to comment on a book whose findings and/or assertions bug you is a perfectly reasonable response.

I root for the Mets and I root for Howard, so with that conflict of interest stated, I will add that I trust one party more than the other where the best interests of the ballclub are concerned, and it’s not the people who own the Mets. Howard and I became friends because we both love the Mets. I’ve watched him write, report and, yes, campaign for the better part of two years motivated by that love.

It’s an important distinction to note Howard is a Mets fan who is a journalist, and not a journalist who stuffs his personal baseball affection in a blind trust while wearing a media credential. He is what they used to call an advocacy journalist. He has a cause. His cause is Met-promotion more than it’s Megdal-promotion. Howard wouldn’t be chasing this story if it weren’t crucial to him that the root cause of the current Met morass be resolved. If the Mets aren’t working properly, that’s his business as much as it’s anybody’s — the franchise-owners included.

I can’t consider anything Howard’s writing about Madoff-Wilpon without thinking about his prior book, Taking The Field, which is ostensibly about Howard’s tongue-brushing-cheek campaign to be voted general manager of your New York Mets in the summer of 2010. He made like Teddy White and gave us a perfectly lovely time capsule by which to remember his clever Quixotic effort to be elected to a non-elective office across what proved to be The Last Days of Omar Minaya. It’s all very charming — and his theories on franchise-building are all perfectly worthy of debate — but that’s not why you’ll want to read Taking The Field as preface to Wilpon’s Folly.

You’ll want to read Taking The Field for Mirabelle Megdal, the designated heiress to the Megdal rooting passion. The book is woven tightly with Howard’s heartachingly sincere desire to pass along to his baby daughter a franchise worthy of the fandom he is intent on cultivating in her. He played play-by-play tapes (Scully, not Healy) for her while she was in her mother’s womb; he rocked her to sleep with bedtime stories downloaded from MLB Trade Rumors; he immersed her in Citi Field culture well before she would be able to crawl let alone stand in the Shake Shack line.

Howard wouldn’t and won’t wait to guide his child in the ways of Mets fandom. Mirabelle’s not nearly old enough to pay a convenience fee, yet I imagine she already has an opinion on who should play second next year.

Give or take the accelerated timetable, Howard is like any Met-loving parent in that he hates the idea of subjecting a beloved offspring to multiple decades of championship-free baseball, but is going to take that chance anyway. More than anybody else I know, however, Howard is determined to figure out how to make the Mets less of a risky proposition for his kid.

Which is where Wilpon’s Folly comes into play. Though Howard plies his investigative skills and honest curiosity in an attempt to unravel the root of the financial mess the Mets have become, I don’t think this is any more the work of a crack reporter and writer (even if he is both) than it is a dad and Mets fan who wants a better long-term baseball situation for his daughter. To put it in the context of one of the stingingest political one-liners of the last century, he wants Mets fans to be better off tomorrow than they’ve been in the past four or so years.

Howard Megdal’s loyalty isn’t to the story for the story’s sake. It’s to helping to craft understanding and forge solutions on a topic that means a ton to him personally, never mind professionally. It’s to trying to ascertain where the money went and whose fingerprints are on what moves. It’s to ultimately positioning the Mets of Mirabelle Megdal’s rooting years — and all of ours — as something with a fighting chance to be a consistently winning proposition.

If that’s a desperate quest, then so be it.

13 comments to The Mirabelle Mets

  • InsidePitcher

    Well said Greg.

    And after having read Wilpon’s Folly, I’m in agreement with you. I’m sure The Powers That Be don’t like Howard’s conclusion that Fred Wilpon will eventually have no other choice but to sell the team, but Howard presents a well-reasoned, fact-based argument for that conclusion.

    And yes, Howard does love the Mets. Enough to foist them upon Mirabelle, for better or worse, which definitely gives him a vested interest in the team’s fortunes.

  • 5w30

    It’s a well-written, convincing look behind the curtain at the Wilpon-Katz regime. An essential read for all those who care about the franchise. “Wilpon’s Folly” will be reviewed and examined in just about every Mets-related site with the probable exception of two – the team-run Mets.com and MetsBlog.com.

  • Mark Healey

    I completely admit, much to my chagrin, that I was not nearly as supportive of “Taking The Field” because I didn’t get it. There were other extenuating circumstances that had nothing to do with Howard that clouded my judgement, but let’s just say that since then, I have grown to appreciate the book for what it was meant to be.

    Megdal the reporter is above reproach, in my opinion, and his reporting in “Minaya’s Folly” and leading up to its publication has been superb.

    Bravo, Greg. Bravo, Howard. I think we’re finally starting to see the beginning of the end.

  • Considering the number of times that Jay Horwitz lied to me in my baseball writing days (I literally rank him with some of the Jersey pols I covered for slimiest folks I dealt with in my reporting career), and Dave Howard’s seeming only passing familiarity with the truth, the fact that the team is attempting to trash Megdal’s work leads me to think it has much more legitimacy. Although I haven’t read the book — I will now — we already know the Mets are about $1.6 billion in debt without anything like enough of a revenue stream to meet the debt service.

    Public statements aside, the numbers don’t lie. The end will come and it will be a mess…but, hopefully, better ownership will come from it.

  • Jim H.

    ‘Ill-conceived noise on the part of the Mets.’??? The Mets? Ill-conceived? Gosh, I hope that’s not a trend or anything.

  • Greg, This is terrific. Thank you.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Haven’t read the book though did read some of the news stories that came out of it last week. Even in short summaries, there seemed a lot of figures and facts quoted, too many to believe that they were just made up or not researched enough or misinterpreted. And there is so much information out there already so what Howard Medgal provides is much less a revelation than in it an explanation.

    We had the nucleus of a good team after 2010 but all we got were cast offs and reclamation projects, no one substantial to fill in the missing holes. Then we are surprisingly in the hunt for the wild card half way through 2011 despite the loss of Ike Davis and yet we get rid of our top hitter and star closer instead of either sitting still or again helping to fill some holes (if that could have been done without giving up prospects).

    And now we lose Jose Reyes even though during the entire year Sandy was saying how important Jose was to the team yet in all that time he never once presented an actual offer (even as a starting point) and his negotiating was no more than general conversation with Jose’s agent.

    We realized the Wilpons and Dave Howard were con men when they started promoting everything that the rest of us found wrong about Citi Field – including that excuse for blocked views of the outfield – even before we found out how outrageous the ticket prices were (and that we couldn’t just buy opening day tickets or those for a Subway Series game – we had to purchase them as part of a package deal. I just hope that Sandy is being forced to go along with the con job rather than being an integral part of it.

    • Mike D.

      @Joe D. — Really? You think last year’s team, and the one from 2010, were anything more than 81- to 85-win squads? Really? Glad you’re not the GM.

  • Will in Central NJ

    Prague Spring….Beijing Spring….Arab Spring….Flushing Spring? Could Howard be the spark needed for an “Occupy CitiField”? (Apologies to Randy Medina at Read the Apple!)

  • 5w30

    As long as the Wilpons and Katz own this ball club, many will NOT Occupy Debits Field.

    • Steve D

      Debit’s Field…sheer genius…I’m stealing that one.

      What goes around comes around…it took Doubleday-Wilpon to rescue the Mets once…lord only knows who will rescue them now (with apologies to Babe Ruth). But it is coming soon.

  • Joe D.

    Debit’s Field – that’s a good one!

    In addition, most of us should thank TIME for naming us the “Person Of The Year”. It was, of course, the protester, and what other group has been louder than the one shouting “sell the team!”? Or more desperate?

  • BlackCountryMet

    Almost finished reading Wilpons folly, better understand the sh!t we’re in now. Hells teeth, what a mess.