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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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Last Name First

Someday maybe, maybe someday soon, Jared Porter will be “Jared” to us. For now, he is “Porter,” and that fits. America has been saddled with enough celebrity Jareds of late.

We’ve also had our run of celebrity general managers. “Brodie” came to us a master of hype — wasn’t he loudly threatening to guide Jacob deGrom to greener pastures than Flushing Meadows mere months before he persuaded Jeff Wilpon to let him switch sides? “Sandy” was a more orthodox choice for GM, but in context carried outsize fame and symbolic weight (godfathering Moneyball before it was a fully recognizable phenomenon). “Omar” was Met-famous as a Steve Phillips aide and well-known to any baseball fan paying modest attention when MLB dropped the withering Montreal Expos in his lap, only to have Omar revitalize them for a couple of summers. After as he returned to Shea, the Kid from Queens narrative soared to LaGuardia takeoff levels. Mind you, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with camera-ready charisma. It surely helps a person get attention before a single throat is cleared.

Jared Porter? If you’d ever heard of him before his name arose as a leading candidate for Met GM, you’re either playing in a front office fantasy league or you worked with the guy in baseball. In professional circles, he’s apparently a star, his glow attained the old-fashioned way. He earned it.

After seventeen seasons elsewhere doing what baseball people do — a little of everything — Jared Porter is now a GM for the first time. From the Red Sox to the Cubs to the Diamondbacks to us, in this role. It’s a path heretofore untrod by the thirteen previous Met GMs. We’ve had GMs who were GMs for other teams. We’ve had GMs who worked their way up the company ladder here. We even tried a fellow who negotiated player contracts on the other end of the table.

It wasn’t too long ago that Brodie Van Wagenen was someone we took seriously in terms of trusting him with sorting through the details of our future happiness. His era hasn’t been over sixty days, yet his tenure already seems destined for clickbait content on the likes of “23 Crazy Baseball Things That Actually Happened!”. The AGENT Who Became GM and Gave a HUGE Contract to his Ex-Client Who had SEVEN ABs in TWO YEARS! would slot snuggly somewhere between The VERY Diminutive Pinch-Hitter Bill Veeck Sent to the Plate WITHOUT a Strike Zone! and The Team That Sold Beer for TEN CENTS and DIDN’T Expect a Riot!

Yet Brodie was our GM for a pair of officially regulation campaigns and we came to accept the seemingly oddball arrangement pretty quickly as business as usual. Some of his business he conducted well to our semi-trained eye, some less so. Who’s to say we won’t discover some innovation he implemented at the sub-Jed Lowrie level, after his hiring in the offseason following 2018 and before his dismissal in the offseason following 2020, wasn’t effective and won’t be deemed to have paid off down the line? Who’s to say, should the Mets ascend relatively soon, there won’t be spirited online debates over how much of it was Brodie’s doing, the way a rearguard faction seemed obsessed in 2015 with noting how many Mets of the moment had been drafted by Omar rather than acquired by Sandy? Who’s to say Brodie, had he been retained, wasn’t going to ultimately make Jeff Wilpon appear visionary?

Alas, we won’t know how Brodie Van Wagenen might have pursued the immediate Met future, because this time we went to Jared. Jared Porter, that is.

Preconceived notions are few. Endorsements are myriad. Peter Gammons loves the guy. Bill James loves the guy. Everybody who’s come in contact with him loves the guy. Or they love the work the guy’s put in and the results his work has yielded, which is the important thing. I watched Porter introduce himself to the media the new-fashioned way, via Zoom. He came off as somebody I’ll readily trust with the post-Brodie, post-Wilpon fortunes of my franchise. No sloganeering. No over-the-top promises. An amiable enough baseball person who appeared ready to get back to depth charts as soon as he could log off the call. An actual GM for virtual times.

Maybe, like Brodie, he’ll sit with The Seven Line Army for a game. Maybe, like Sandy, icon status will attach itself to him. Maybe, like Omar, he’ll be promoted as a major selling point. Or maybe none of these. It could matter greatly across the great sweep of Metropolitan history that Jared Porter is GM. Or it could prove a well-intended footnote. Tom Seaver won three Cy Youngs for the Mets under three different general managers. You think Tom worried himself over whether it was Johnny Murphy, Bob Scheffing or Joe McDonald up in the front office? (It was only the unyielding presence of the corrosive chairman of the board that proved a fatal distraction.)

Jared Porter’s appointment is fine. Fine is what we’re all striving to be as 2020 gathers its strength for a final push to next year. Get us to 2021 and we can start to believe COVID-19 will be properly vaccinated away and baseball will start anew and somewhat normally not long after. We can, like Porter, choose to enthusiastically buy into Steve Cohen’s timeline of three to five years for a world championship despite the lack of guarantees therein. When Steve, a first-namer to be sure, did his first Zoom, his estimate of when he’d like to handle the Commissioner’s Trophy sounded offhanded yet not unreasonable. It’s what an optimistic fan who’d just bought a decently talented team and was used to succeeding might throw out there as a best-case estimate. Maybe it will happen. Maybe it won’t. If we get and stay close — finishing first occasionally and contending for the playoffs perennially — I won’t demand an emotional refund. Steve Cohen as owner, Sandy Alderson as team president and now Jared Porter as general manager, along with Luis Rojas, the skipper who chronologically predates each of them despite technically reporting to all of them, are going to invest themselves in designing and staffing an infrastructure that’s built to last. Do that, and we’ll clear every October on our calendar in good faith.

The people putting together the Mets can only make so many promises and we who wish to believe they know what they’re doing can make only so many projections. Also fine. Do your best and we’ll at least verge on being satisfied.

4 comments to Last Name First

  • open the gates

    So Steve Cohen just hired an “inside baseball” guy for the ultimate inside baseball job. That actually sounds kind of…logical. Yet another proof that the Wilpons have sailed for parts unknown.

  • Daniel Hall

    Maybe he’ll be Jared to us, maybe he’ll be Mr. Porter, or maybe he’ll be “Porter, that ******* ********* ***wipe” …

    For now, I’m just glad that he’s not Brodie Dynamite.

  • HallelujahAnyway

    In the book, “The Numbers Game” the author says statistics regarding baseball have been studied since the 1800’s. So analyzing stats was a phenomenon long before “Sandy” and Moneyball were around.

    Is that correct?

  • Joeybaguhdonuts

    This guy has four World Series rings. That impresses me. How involved will he, or Sandy, or Cohen, be involved with how they play the game?