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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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Fred from Locust Valley Calls Steve Somers

“Your phone number for a Monday night schmooze, One Eight Seven Seven, Three Three Seven, Six Six Six Six on your Fan — WFAN, here taking your calls until Richard Neer at ten o’clock. Fred from Locust Valley, you’re next.”

“Hello Steve.”

“Hello Fred! You’re calling from the Valley of the Locusts, with the bedbugs…what already?”

“Steve, I want to talk about the Mets.”

“Fred, getting right to it!”

“Steve, I want to talk about Jose Reyes.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts and the bedbugs and the shortstop of the New York Metropolitans.”

“Steve, Jose Reyes is a racehorse.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts stepping up to the pari-mutuel window with the mint juleps and the black-eyed susans and the Shackleford already. I get the feeling Fred maybe won a few shekels wagering on the Preakness Saturday before watching his racehorse Jose Reyes run in the Subway Series. Fred from the Valley of the Locusts with the thoroughbreds already!”

“No, Steve, I lost money.”

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that. What’s on your mind regarding the shortstop of the New York Metropolitans, Jose Reyes?”

“Steve, Jose Reyes is a racehorse. He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts setting the odds on the free agent market for Jose Reyes while Jose Reyes is still under contract to play shortstop for the New York Metropolitans! Is that tampering? We’ll let it go.”

“Steve, Jose Reyes isn’t going to get Carl Crawford money. He’s had everything wrong with him.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts offering, what, with the diagnosis of your Jose Reyes and your New York Metropolitans — everything wrong with him! Jose Reyes at or near the top of your National League leaderboard in hits and doubles and triples and stolen bases and leading off and getting on base, but Fred…not so impressed with Jose Reyes.”

“Steve, Jose Reyes isn’t going to get Carl Crawford money. He’s had everything wrong with him. He’s not going to get it.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts making with the forecast and the apocalyptic doom with the world ending! It didn’t end Saturday, but now Fred letting us know Jose Reyes, shortstop for his Metropolitans won’t be making the, what, one-hundred forty-two million dollars for the seven years like Carl Crawford with the Boston Red Sox, we should only be so lucky to live another seven days let alone seven years. Fred, are you there?”

“I’m here Steve. And I want to talk about David Wright.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts and the bedbugs and maybe they should spray while you’re all infested, what do you want to say about David Wright, third baseman for the New York Metropolitans?”

“He’s pressing, Steve.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts making like the batting coach and the sports psychologist at the same time for your New York Metropolitans, seeing exactly what is wrong with David Wright!”

“He’s pressing, Steve. David Wright’s a really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts sticking the needle into the face of the franchise! David Wright with All-Star appearances and the hundred RBIs every year and now with the strained lower back, what, and Fred from the Valley of the Locusts recommending acupuncture! The needle for the face of the franchise!”


“Call me Steve.”

“Steve, about Carlos Beltran…”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts turning his attention to the right fielder of the Metropolitans.”

“One good series, Steve, in 2004, for Houston.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts boiling down the career of Carlos Beltran to one series! Fred, not impressed with the last seven years of Carlos Beltran running around in center field and now right field for his Metropolitans.”

“Steve, we had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts getting ethnic! Can Fred say that on the air? Brian Monzo on the other side of the glass shaking his head. Fred with the salty language, the tongue already!”

“Steve, he’s sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts downgrading Carlos Beltran in his final year as a New York Metropolitan. Doesn’t think Jose Reyes is Carl Crawford. Thinks David Wright is pressing. Evaluates Carlos Beltran at about two-thirds of what he was. Fred, I want to ask you — are there any New York Metropolitans you’re excited about already?”

“Pedro Beato — Brooklyn boy. And Ike Davis, Steve.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts happy to have Ike Davis on the Metropolitans!”

“Good hitter. Shi…”

“Fred with the language again! You can’t talk like that on the radio, Brian Monzo on the other side of the glass quick with the button. You have to watch it, Fred! This is a radio station, not Locust Valley!”

“Sorry Steve. Lousy clubs, that’s what happens. We’re snakebitten, baby.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts getting intimate on a Monday night!”

“I grew up in Brooklyn, Steve.”

“Call me Steve.”

“I grew up in Brooklyn and went to Ebbets Field.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts with the nostalgia from fifty-something years ago.”

“Steve, my hero was Jackie Robinson. I went to Lafayette High School with Sandy Koufax.”

“Fred from the Valley of the Locusts and the nostalgia for the good old days and the egg creams and going to school with Sandy Koufax already!”

“I pitched at Lafayette High School, Steve. The only reason he joined the baseball team was so we could hang around together. I pitched batting practice for the Dodgers.”

“Fred from Locust Valley with the beautiful memories, not so much with the patience for your New York Metropolitans of today. Thank you for calling, Fred, next time watch the salty language, like you don’t think anybody is listening when you talk already? One Eight Seven Seven, Three Three Seven, Six Six Six Six your number on the Fan. Eighty thirty-nine and fifty-five seconds, with the twenty-twenty flash, here’s Rich Ackerman!”

36 comments to Fred from Locust Valley Calls Steve Somers

  • Lenny65

    Don’t the Dodgers need a new owner? I know of one who’d LOVE the job. Let’s trade ’em even-up for a bag of rosin and some base line chalk.

  • Daviault

    Kudos to Greg … and you too, Lenny65!

  • kowalski69

    Not only did I read this with the Schmooze acting as my inner voice, I immediately played the WFAN jingle after the sign-off.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Shouldn’t it be “nine three seven, six six six six”?

  • G / J

    “…Next Up: Jeff from Fred’s basement in Locust Valley…”

  • Ken K. in NJ

    And the interview was basically before Jason Bay “returned”. Just imagine what Fred would have said about HIM.

  • Lenny65

    I found it interesting how the “esteemed” Mr. Wilpon made no mention of the mistakes made by the men HE hired to run the Mets since he became the “CEO”. Reminds me of when the “ownership” back in the 1970’s tried to paint Tom Seaver as the bad guy when things became contentious, right before they shipped him away for a lot of cheap roster-fillers. Seemed like a really poor way to sell tickets back then, still does now.

  • Dykstra The Stock Guru

    I thought the New Yorker piece was a poignant portrayal of a guy who is clearly suffering. His legacy has been irreparably blackened by the Madoff scandal and he could end up in financial ruin, losing his most cherished asset in the fallout while also carrying the shame of steering others toward the same fate. It ain’t a pretty picture.

    What he said about Reyes, Wright and Beltran — all true in my opinion. Reyes will get paid, but the team that signs him is taking on huge risk. He’s never had a year I can remember where he didn’t miss significant time. Wright is bordering on great, but I don’t think one can rightly put the superstar tag on him, at least not yet. His yearly strikeout total keeps going up, which is a bad sign. Beltran is having a wonderful year, but his best days are obviously behind him. 65-70% of what he was in 2004 — generous assessment.

    Just because a guy is a fan or an owner doesn’t mean he can’t give a clear-eyed assessment of the players on his beloved team. The one thing I criticize Wilpon for is his pathological need to honor the Brooklyn Dodgers at the expense of his own team. That was a major gaffe, but he admitted it and took steps to correct it. There are many worse owners than Fred Wilpon.

  • gary

    Brilliant.Can u please buy my baseball team?

  • Dave

    Haven’t had a chance to read the article yet, but I don’t know what M. Donald Wilpon was thinking. Trying to bring Reyes’ and Wright’s prices down? That’s not going to work. The more likely outcome is that their 2 best players/box office attractions will instead question their boss’ loyalty…or if any of them are on the trading block once the white flag goes up, he’s already diminished their market value. Or is this his idea of how to motivate them? Please. Wright was already playing with a broken back.

    Yeah, much of what he says is true – Wright is not a short-list MVP candidate superstar, Reyes isn’t going to get a 7-year contract, Beltran is not the 5-tool stud he used to be, but if you’re the owner, you express those thoughts in private, not with a journalist. Bad imitation of vintage Steinbrenner.

  • James

    This whole situation reminds me of a comment Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) made in “Saving Private Ryan”: Never gripe down. Although Fred Wilpon may be human, and thus entitled to his fair share of griping about the current New York Mets ballclub, he remains in the owner. Once the very head of the organization openly expresses dissatisfaction in such blunt and unpolitical terms, confidence is lost across the whole of the group. Fred should know better than to allow these comments to become public record. While Joe Metsfan can lament the trials and tribulations of the team in most any way he likes, Fred represents the head of the entire structure. He has to remain diplomatic and parsimonious in his public commentary—even if there is occasional bellowing from Mets fans that Fred “doesn’t care.” Let them bellow; Fred cannot afford—quite literally, perhaps—to lose his cool and publicly belittle the team.

    It befuddles me how Fred, having complained about the way the Mets are treated in the press, comes out and feeds right into the beast! Why do members of the local and national media continually claim the Mets are dysfunctional? Here in lies a part of the reason: the lack of a unified, coherent message that extends across the organization. And there is the matter of commenting on how the team is terrible when, at the end of the day, Fred Wilpon is conceivably where the buck should stop! So the comments are interpreted less as an impassioned “I feel your pain” commentary on the situation of the Mets and more along the lines of having other people take the brunt of the blame. Furthermore, the comparisons I’ve heard regarding George Steinbrenner are not analogous for two reasons:

    1) Steinbrenner could often cover up his mistakes through his immense resources.
    2) Steinbrenner was consistently known for his near bipolar love-hate relationships with a number of his players and personnel.

    I don’t get the impression that Fred sought to emulate Steinbrenner to light the proverbial fire under his players. I’m inclined to believe that he at last vented about the Mets, only it turned out to be in too public a forum. Bobby Valentine made the same mistake back in 1999, but he survived thanks to the miraculous last minute survival of that team. Even then, the manager is expendable; the owner is not.

    Thus the issue is not whether or not Fred Wilpon is correct. That debate is an entirely separate matter. The problem is the inconsistency in message and the lack of control exuded by the owner. When I read that Fred said, “We’re snakebitten, baby,” I lose a lot of confidence in the ownership because now it seems he is suddenly surrendering control of the situation. Even as a sardonic quip, it’s a thought which an organizational leader should keep to himself.

    As is almost always the case, someone ought to know better.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    5he next caller to Steve should be “Sandy From Flushing The Team Down The Toilet”.

    Today Francesa explained Alderson’s take on trading Reyes for prospects came from Sandy’s philosophy not to invest heavily on one or two “superstar” players but rather spreading out the money to acquire more players of a decent caliber.

    I think that is B.S. Every G.M. knows that one or two big free agent signings does not transform a below .500 team into a contender; it takes a 25 man roster with each knowing his part. Alderson won’t spend big bucks to retain Reyes and Krod simply because that is what his bosses want.

    Yes, he should be more wise with the resources he has available than the former G.M. who blew it by signing Perez, Castillo and Bay to long term and expensive contracts. However, Alderson has blown it by going the opposite direction – trying to build a team on the cheap and going after injury prone players and cast-offs. He’s already been burned with Chris Young. Another pitcher he signed for two years (Carrasco) is down in the minors. We’re also getting burned on the mound by Cappuano and Byrdak not to mention Hairston and Harris on the bench. Boyer and Hu are no longer burning us because they have joined Carrasco. Brad Emaus is back with his old team. Buchholz is the only one that has so far looked good (Polino has not had enough time).

    The fact that we’re still only two games below .500 is due to those players we already had on the parent team or in the farm system. And three of those responsible for this mild success most likely won’t be here by August. Jose and KRod are still players that along with Wright, David, etc. one can build around with so if we can re-sign Reyes without breaking the bank and keep KRod we should. We should be prudent with our money, yes, but if an honest attempt is not at least made, it means relying on a bean counter to be our general manager. That’s keeping up the M. Donald Grant tradition of restructuring.

    The Mets can contend again next year with the addition of a few key quality players who do not have to be superstars but can fit the role. Whoever we sign or trade for is offset by the loss of Reyes, KRod and Beltran and will prevent us from being anything more than the mediocre club we currently are.

    • James

      It’s interesting what you said about having a “bean counter” as a general manager. I don’t think Alderson is from that school of thought (and I’m not insinuating that you meant to suggest that), but the Wilpons might be in a position where they’re hoping that “moneyball” can keep the franchise afloat as they muddle through their financial troubles. I hope this is not the case, but at this point I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. The fact that ownership continually provides conflicting answers and results with regards to the baseball operations not being affected by the monetary situation adds to the overall confusion and distrust.

      If Fred Wilpon’s grand scheme is to scrounge up spare parts so as to avoid spending money, then the Mets are likely to end up in the wilderness for the next five years. Quite frankly, I think Alderson’s hands are tied for now.

      I should add that from what I read, Fred made these comments as the Mets hit their (initial) nadir earlier in April. I still don’t believe that is a suitable excuse.

      Also, I’m confused by what Fred meant by saying that some “schmuck in New York” signed Beltran based on one series (’05 NLCS). Was he referring to Scott Boras holding out for oodles of cash? Whatever the case might be, Fred signed off on paying Beltran, so I interpret the comment more as sour grapes due to the current predicament. I recall specifically that they signed Beltran to seven years based on the standard decline of center fielders around the age of 34 (I believe they used Bernie Williams as the barometer). The fact that Beltran is not at the level he was at the age of 27 or 28 was to be expected. Quite frankly, I don’t know why Fred is harping on an older but still productive Carlos Beltran. He’s the least of our worries.

      Perhaps I am attempting to employ too much logic to emotionally driven comments.

      • Matt from Woodside

        I’m not getting any sense of this from Alderson. He’s trying to see what the system has in it right now. That’s why the send downs and call ups and outright releases have been a lot more rapid-fire than we’ve been accustomed to in recent years. Informed impatience.

        Wilpon made these comments the night that the Mets got to 5 and 13. That’s what makes Greg’s post so fitting. Every single fan watching that game had those thoughts in their head at that point. The team looked like total ass the first three weeks of the season. Horrible. I felt like I had my eyes pried open forced to watch Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity every night for three hours. Now that they’ve fought their way almost back to .500 with most of the Bison’s roster, they’re overperforming and loveable. Regardless, should Wilpon be sounding like a regular fan? No.

        Baseball is 162 nine-inning seasons to the New York tabloids, and every major gaffe gets at least two days on the back page. It was indefensibly stupid for Fred Wilpon to speak negatively about his star players like that while a guy that he KNEW was writing a profile of him in a high profile magazine was in the room, but at least there’s context. He really should’ve said that shit to a daily though.

  • Lenny65

    I think it’s just very poor form to have an owner run down his own players right in the middle of the season that way, regardless of how true or false his opinions might be. If the guy who owns the club doesn’t think the players are that good, why should the fans? The Mets aren’t “snakebitten”, they’ve just been run by a lot of guys who made terrible decisions. Including Wilpon. Mets fans can say plenty about Beltran, Reyes and Wright, but you can’t blame them for putting together rosters (and farm systems) that failed to deliver.

  • Andee

    I’m pretty sure the “some schmuck in New York” remark (re signing Beltran) was FW referring derisively to himself.

    Isn’t it fun to get some old man with early stage dementia and the imminent potential for losing a cool ten figures into his cups, or maybe get a couple of extra tranks into him, and watch him run down his team that was 5-13 at the time of the interview and about to lose another game to a team with the worst record in the NL? Fun fun fun. Almost as much fun as pulling the wings off flies, I’d guess, not actually having experienced the pleasure of either one.

    Look, I’ve been as critical of the Wilpons as anyone, and sure, these were schmucky things to say. But honestly? I really don’t get the “he’s not allowed to say all the crappy things everyone else says” angle on this. He’s supposed to be all cheery and rah-rah all the time when he knows the whole world hates him and his team and has for the greater part of the last quarter century, including most of his alleged fan base? Really? Everyone thinks they’d be perfectly behaved under those circumstances. They’re much better people, they’d sell the team rather than besmirch the integrity of the franchise so thoroughly. Sure they would. Being in the billionaires’ club never altered anyone’s brain chemistry for life, oh nooooo.

    Hey, it’s very possible that they tried to negotiate with Reyes over the winter and he DID hold out for a Crawford deal, which at that time it would have been hard to justify giving him. Fred was there. We weren’t. And was giving Beltran 7 years a bad idea? Maybe there was no other way to get him, but I haven’t yet seen a 7-year (or more) deal in MLB that didn’t turn out to be an albatross for the team that dished it out.

    Besides, nothing FW said is in the same league as “Mr. May” or “fat pus-y toad.” Steinbrenner uncorked one of those at least once a year until about 1998. And it could certainly be worse. I can easily picture the new owner saying, “Sandy freaking Alderson is our GM? What the hell has he ever won? And Google Boy is his assistant? WE CAN’T HAVE THAT SORT OF THING! We need some old-school baseball men in here!” And hi, here’s Ned Colletti and his new assistant Brian Sabean.

    • oldtimebaseball

      Well said. The comments on his players are a very small part of a much longer piece dealing with the Wilpon/Madoff relationship. On the whole, it’s a sympathetic treatment of Wilpon. And I’m sure that, as you say, Wilpon was referring to himself as the “shmuck” who gave Beltran such a big contract based on one series. (Harvey Araton, in today’s Times, fails to note that, accusing Wilpon of “passing the buck”).

      But the article did give Greg a chance for a masterly satire. I could almost hear Steve Somers talking with “Fred from the Valley of the Locusts”. Priceless!

    • James

      Having read the “schmuck” comment again right after my second post, I at last got the sense that he was referring to himself.

      The point I tried to make, and this goes to the idea of Fred not being “permitted” to share his honest opinion about his own team, is that regardless of how accurate or well-timed those comments were (arguable, but let us assume that is the case), they are nevertheless inappropriate for the very head of the franchise. It speaks poorly for confidence in the the entirety of the organization. He doesn’t need to be “cheery” or “rah-rah;” in fact, being overly optimistic in public is almost as bad as being brutally honest. But the old principle applies: if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all. His comments were bound (and already have) to be simplified into this: Fred lost his cool and/or his marbles; the New York Mets are in the crapper for the foreseeable future; the ownership throws players under the bus; say goodbye to star/marquee players. Even if the whole situation is far more complex and nuanced, the broader picture will be painted in largely negative and over simplified terms.

      Already this is apparent with regards to the Reyes situation. When Fred says that Reyes won’t get Carl Crawford money, that quickly is perceived as, “We won’t resign Jose Reyes.” And any Mets fan with an awareness of history recalls the nasty situation which developed between Daryl Strawberry and ownership back in his walk year (where, in that case, ownership didn’t want to give Strawberry Jose Canseco money). It needlessly backed everyone into a corner, and then it was played out in the press. Even though Fred Wilpon is referring to an extreme end of the bargaining process (throw money at star player), I cannot imagine that his comments make negotiating with Reyes or even other players in the immediate future any easier.

      Sloshed or not, senile or not, Fred Wilpon managed to reinvigorate the perception that the New York Mets are incompetent and off-message. The media is not the forum in which to be candid as a public figure—not to this degree. Fred is entitled to his honest opinion as any human being is, but not at the expense of everyone else around him—though I probably should add that he himself has already paid quite a steep price.

      So long as Fred Wilpon is owner, his commentary comes to reflect the mood of the franchise.

      • It occurs to me the “he won’t get it” comment could be taken as collusion by the Players Association if they really wanted to be jerks about it.

  • I could imagine comments made over several Cocktails..
    I love these Buffalo solders even more!
    Rich P

  • Alan from East Northport

    Well done, Greg.

    It’s a sad situation, but humor does lighten the fan’s load. Mission accomplished.

    Many good points have been made in response. One has to feel, though, that Fred is a good person who just wanted the best for his team. Simply put, he finally allowed the frustrations of being the city’s second banana get to him, he slipped on the peel and has wound up on his butt.

    But nobody’s laughing.

  • Joe D.

    Hi James,

    It’s OK, I was insinuating that Alderson has been forced into the role of a bean counter by the Wilpons.

    Creating three holes at one time with our strong points – shortstop, right field and closer are too many to be offset by obtaining more players of lesser quality to fill various positions. It didn’t work with Tom Seaver – even though the Mets got four players back in the deal and Tom, who only pitched every fourth day was replaced in the rotation by a third or fourth starter along with an everyday second baseman,an everyday left fielde plus a prospect that never worked out. Three for one doesn’t always mean getting the better of the deal.

    Can understand Beltran being traded due to his age but with his rejuvinated knees he could have two or three good, productive seasons ahead of him. But everyone loses players to free agency so I can deal with that. What I can’t deal with is losing all three. Not after all the money the Wilpons acquired from us fans over the years and lost due to their own financial over-estensions

  • dak442

    For years Fred got hammered for being remote, and accepting mediocrity. He finally opens up a bit, especially with his “shitty team” comments, and gets hammered more. Guy can’t win.

    If I were Fred I would have gone on the offensive a long time ago, both against players and management not performing to their pay grade, and especially against that rapacious turd Picard.

    • One of the easy MSM lines going around is “Mets fans say they want their owner to be more like Steinbrenner, yet now that he is…” Mark me down as one Mets fan who never wanted any Wilpon or Doubleday to behave like the lout in the other borough. I appreciated the external discretion. If Fred (or big-balled Saul) wanted to kick ass behind the scenes, that was their prerogative.

      • dak442

        Perhaps not to the extent Steinbrenner did, he was an ambarrassment to baseball.

        Maybe I’m an old softy, I just feel like Fred is a well-meaning doofus who has had a run of bad luck and is being pilloried for things beyond his control.

      • dak442

        “ambarrassment”? The edit button isn’t working.

  • BlackCountryMet

    Lose Wright? Yeah, IMO he flatters to deceive in recent seasons. Lose Beltran? Yeah, probably on a down slope and will want too much. Lose Jose? NO WAY. Still has the potential for many more good years and who we gonna get who is 4/5s as good as him?

  • Lenny65

    I wasn’t suggesting Wilpon owed it to anyone to give some kind of pollyanna-pie-in-the-sky interview nor was I suggesting he shouldn’t speak his mind. My point was that if he was in a finger-pointing mood, there were plenty of deserving targets to choose from and it was poor form to take mid-season jabs at three of the team’s main contributors. As far as his….”bad investments” are concerned, hey, that’s why they call it gambling.

  • Joe D.

    Fred’s problem was assuming we would continue providing him that gambling money no matter how much he charged since we had no choice but to pay up. He and his son also made the mistake of putting more emphasis on creating a shopping mall and convention center rather than a place to watch a ball game, urging fans to leave their seats during the game to take advantage of the restaurants and stores built to enhance our day at the park (i.e., spend even more money).

    Guess he took us as fools and never expected fans to strike back and say “hell no, we won’t go”.

    It’s not the team performance that’s driven us away Fred, it’s you.