In the “seventh inning” of Ken Burns’s Baseball — the installment titled “The Capital of Baseball” — the viewer learns that New York was the epicenter of the universe in the 1950s, at least until two-thirds of the Metropolitan Pastime’s contingent was about to be packed up and shipped west. It’s within that portion of the documentary that Burns brought in John Turturro to voice the letter a concerned citizen wrote to Mayor Robert Wagner as the dastardly deeds were being done in 1957:
I am a man of very few words so I will come straight to the point. I voted for you. I pay your salary. I WANT THE DODGERS IN BROOKLYN. I don’t want any excuses from you or any of your men at the City Hall. I WANT THE DODGERS IN BROOKLYN and you can do it by building the sports center. You had better get it built or you’ll not get a vote from me.
Just as John Turturro channeled the sentiments of disgruntled Wagner voter R. Cucco twenty years ago, his same I-mean-business tone would suit my sentiments presently where the machinations of WOR and, apparently, the Mets themselves are concerned.
I am a man of sometimes many words but I will come straight to the point. I am a loyal consumer of your product. I WANT HOWIE ROSE AND JOSH LEWIN DESCRIBING IT TO ME ON RADIO. I don’t want any excuses from you or any of your people at Clear Channel. I WANT HOWIE AND JOSH BROADCASTING METS GAMES and you can do it by signing them to contracts for the 2014 season and many seasons beyond. You had better get it done or…
Oh, damn, this is where my 50,000 watts of Turturroan indignation turn to static because I am a consumer of your product and you SOBs (that’s Students of Broadcasting, I hope) probably assume a fan like me might raise a fuss over disagreeable details but will ultimately tune in when I need to hear the Mets on the radio because, well, I need to hear the Mets on the radio. You smugly believe that since I put up with Tom McCarthy for two years and Wayne Hagin for four more that you can, for reasons not at all understood by me, potentially replace an announcer I’ve come to enjoy and not pay a price for it.
The price is my goodwill, but perhaps that’s not dollars-and-sensical enough for you to care.
That’s too bad. If you don’t keep Howie and Josh together, I will view it and hear it as an abuse of my trust. It may not mean a thing to your pocketbook in the short term, because I can’t swear I’d ease my foot off the going-to-games gas pedal in any meaningful way or even resist the temptation of orange-and-blue merchandise if there’s a spiffy new item that catches my eye. Yet I will be genuinely pissed off. And I’ll remember it. And somewhere along the way, you’ll have whittled away at our team-fan relationship.
I only know what I read in Capital New York, but the pieces of the story that have emerged — that new flagship WOR wasn’t necessarily anxious to retain Howie Rose (perhaps because they believe putting a shiny 710 stamp on Met broadcasts supercedes Met listeners’ needs) and that Jeff Wilpon hasn’t rushed to secure Josh Lewin’s services (perhaps because Josh’s sparkling chemistry with Howie and his own quick wit elude the COO) — are, as they say in chin-stroking journalistic circles, troubling.
The Mets said they were going to WOR, but I look at Howie and Josh not confirmed to the world at large as the Mets broadcast team of record right now and well into the future, and I’m pretty sure WTF? is the real frequency over which ownership and its new radio partners are intent on transmitting.