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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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What The Fonz?

While interviews continue to proceed to determine who will collaborate most collegially with non-uniformed front office personnel in the evolving so as to be unrecognizable to the ghost of John McGraw role of field manager, I have a question not for or about Carlos Beltran, Eduardo Perez, Joe Girardi, Tim Bogar or anybody else still considered a candidate to make us completely forget Mickey Callaway, but regarding another recently vacant skippering position:

Why was Edgardo Alfonzo dismissed as manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones?

Word seeped out last week that Fonzie would not be back in Coney Island to follow up on his New York-Penn League championship-guiding performance — and not because he was being groomed for bigger and better things up the Met chain. No official announcement was made, but the reported phrase of explanation, via Mike Puma of the Post, was Brodie Van Wagenen’s regime wanted to fill the role with one of “its own people”.

Fonzie is a Mets icon. He’s our own people. I’m surprised Brodie the GM of the same organization that has long been graced by the presence of Edgardo Alfonzo hasn’t crossed paths with the man.

My instinct is to be disgusted with the Mets the way I was disgusted with the Mets when they didn’t bother keeping Alfonzo a Met player in December of 2002, but I’ve also been straining to see this from the “its own people” angle. Was there some intangible element Fonzie didn’t bring to managing the Cyclones that the BVW crew values? We know he brought the leadership that resulted in a trophy. Was that just a coincidence? I ask that sincerely. Was Fonzie not developing players while he was winning with them? Is there a burgeoning “Met way” of doing things that Fonzie is somehow viewed as incapable of disseminating? I’m not asking that rhetorically. If Van Wagenen is overseeing a restructuring of the minor leagues and has a certain kind of manager in mind that Edgardo Alfonzo definitively isn’t, then maybe I can squint and see how a change was in order.

Shy of the traditional whisper campaign that usually denigrates whichever Met is suddenly an ex-Met, that’s the best answer I can come up with, and it’s not much. It seems ludicrous on the surface and several layers beneath it. Admittedly, I didn’t hang on every pitch of every Cyclones game in 2019, but I also didn’t pick up on any whispering that the Cyclones were winning in spite of Alfonzo, or that Alfonzo was managing virulently against the desired organizational tide. Did he roll his eyes one too many times during an analytical presentation? Did he toss a printout of projected prospect tendencies to the ground and do to it what Lou Brown did to Roger Dorn’s contract in Major League? Has Fonzie ever done anything to piss off anybody?

If another manager who finally brought an undisputed title to the crown jewel of the Met system had been told he wasn’t going to manage for any Met affiliate next season, I honestly might not have noticed. But this is Fonzie. We know Fonzie. We remember him as one of the most diligent players we ever had. He was fundamentals incarnate, a teammate beyond reproach, a quiet leader in a tumultuous, thrilling era of Mets baseball. It was sad when the business of free agency sent him elsewhere. It was heartwarming to have him back in a dugout under the Met umbrella. Then he adds a flourish to the ideal scenario by winning.

That’s not enough to be this organization’s own people?

Fonzie will stick around as a Mets Ambassador, which seems to involve making community-minded appearances; smiling in the vicinity of Mr. Met; and popping out of the shadows to present casino gift certificates to lucky fans who guess “Edgardo Alfonzo” as the answer to between-innings trivia quizzes. I’ll take Fonzie in that Met capacity over no Met capacity. I’d hate to think there’d be a rift that would keep our all-time second baseman (as named on the 40th and 50th Anniversary teams) away from Flushing. It’s always a downer when you see someone you loved as a player viewed as utterly disposable as an instructor. But it seems a waste of a splendid baseball mind to confine Alfonzo to only ceremonial duties. It’s baffling that a champion be told he’s somehow not the cut of an organization’s jib after just having brought that organization tangible splendor.

He’s Fonzie. C’mon. What gives?

17 comments to What The Fonz?

  • Dak442

    I was holding out hope Fonzie might land the big job. So of course, we don’t let him manage ANYWHERE.

  • chuck

    I wonder if this in any way connected to MLB’s intention of restructuring the minor leagues. Apparently the NYPL will be on the chopping block. What happens to the Cyclones?

    • NYT suggests Cyclones, given their status as a (surprisingly) well-run operation, would be a Double-A franchise in such a setup, though at this point that’s more than a year away (and nothing is certain).

  • eric1973

    How could the Wilpons let the NY Penn League be disbanded? I remember them having some PULL with the Commissioner’s Office, as they were perpetrating their Wil-ponzie scheme, as if they weren’t in on it.

    That would break a lot of New York hearts.

    Guess they’ll use Keyspan/MCU for Dog Shows and Flea Markets.

  • Jacobs27

    Wow, what?

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Greg. Seems terrible. Why do the Mets have to do things like this?

  • The timing of this is really hard to understand. However, there may be more to this story yet as jobs develop internally over the winter.

  • 9th String Catcher

    It’s always nice to have reminders about how inept this front office really is. It’s easy to forget with the feel-good nature of the second half of the season that Brody is mostly incompetent and the owners are clueless. It’s why you fire a manager without a real idea of who you want to replace him with. It’s why you get rid of a manager who just won a title. It’s why Tim Bogar is going to be our next manager. Can’t wait to see who our replacement for Wheeler is going to be.

    • Daniel Hall

      “Can’t wait to see who our replacement for Wheeler is going to be.” – Vargas, Jason.

      Third time’s the charm, no?

  • Chip Armonaitis

    I have been saying since early September. He may not want the job, which is a 12 month a year commitment. Maybe wants to be with family.

    He was a great candidate, especially since he is obviously bi-lingual.

    Only knock I have on him is he won’t win press conferences. As a player he was not flamboyant, just did his job like a professional. Now the goal is to win the post-game press conference and follow the instructions of people who got paper cuts trying to play strat-o-matic as a kid.

  • LeClerc

    Girardi to Philly.

    Get ready for Callaway 2.0 ?

  • chuck

    I never really disliked the Philadelphia team, but with Harper and Girardi on board, yeah, now I hate ‘em.

    It might be fun to see how those two whiny little bitches try to get along with each other.

  • Jacobs27

    So, this is unrelated to the Fonz situation, but it’s in the What the…? vein.

    Watching the World Series I think I’ve finally been converted to some kind of robot umpire set up. I’m tired of being able to see clear as day that the ump has missed a strike call and it just being “part of the game”. It’s become obvious how often it happens. Most recently, in that big inning the other night, a missed strike-three call had a huge impact on how the inning played out.

    There are certainly problems and kinks to work out in having automatic strike calls. But it doesn’t seem sustainable to have a situation where it’s so easy to immediately have a better look at each pitch than the home plate umpire.

  • Karol d

    Just curious… why wasn’t Fonzie included in the mix of manager candidates?
    Sure wish he could get a shot in the show.

    • scott mandell

      i asked, on another site, if maybe the “mystery” candidate for manager might be fonzie. for heaven’s sake, he brought a championship season to a team that was never that good. i think he’d be a strong candidate for mets’ manager or at the very least mets’ bench coach.

  • eric1973

    Because the people love Fonzie and would take his side over Brodie in any situation.

    Of course, Brodie cannot have that, and needs a first year toady, a lackey whom he can control in every situation.

    This team will need to win on auto-pilot, as they needed to do the past 2 years.

    And to this day, no Met has come forward to defend Mickey, a very telling signal regarding his ‘reign.’

    Would have been nice to have Buck.