By Mike Steffanos
The Mets training camp is off to a fairly tranquil start, with one glaring exception being that Kaz Matsui is already being booed for any misstep he makes. I guess there is an element of Mets fans out there that believe they can put pressure on Mets management to trade for a second baseman. Actually, I'm fairly convinced that most of those that boo Matsui do it more because it is the thing to do, lacking any real personal opinions in this matter. More and more, I find myself in agreement with the person that made this comment on my site:
Frances[ca], Russo and Beningo (of all people) beat the Mets/ Matsui/ Beltran stink drum and the fans for some reason follow. It shows at the stadium too.
Don't get me wrong here. New York has always been a tough place to play, and Matsui has been a huge disappointment. I'm beginning to seriously doubt that he'll be able to play a competent second base for the Mets, much less maintain a level of play commensurate to his contract. However, the sheer amount of anger displayed towards Matsui is just way out of whack with his inability to do his job. It seems more at a level that should be directed at someone who's committed a heinous crime.
I'm not going to waste my time here trying to protect Matsui. He's making a lot of money, and can afford a really good shrink or whatever else it might take to get over the trauma of these 3 disappointing seasons in the Big Apple. He can regale his grandchildren someday with tales of the Roger Cedeno treatment he received from us kooky Americans. I'm not going to try to talk anybody out of booing the scapegoat of his or her choice, either. This has become the cherished tradition of a small but vocal percentage of Mets fans who believe this to be their God-given right. Knock yourselves out.
What I've come to realize is that my commenter had a valid point, and that is that a large contributor to the negativity that surrounds this team is the duo that rules the airwaves on WFAN from 1 - 5:30 every afternoon. The person that left the comment responded to a short mention I made at the end of a post of how tired I was of WFAN and their two afternoon "personalities":
Are you as tired of WFAN as I am?
I really wanted to listen to WFAN today to hear if anything was going on with the Mets, but had to turn it off when I got tired of Mike Francesa and Chris Russo's negativity towards the team. They were talking about Aaron Heilman like they had a clue about him, which was laughable. Russo is so anti- any New York team I often wonder what people see in him. He's like the New York sports fan's bratty little brother.
Even if it's not the on air "talent" turning me off to WFAN, it's the incessant silliness of Yankee fans and Mets fans sniping at each other. I feel like I'm back in junior high school. I'd love to hear some intelligent baseball talk. Maybe I need to check out satellite radio. Anyone have any recommendations?
I got a lot of response to that, including some great advice about satellite radio. It struck a chord with others like me, who love sports talk but have just had enough Mike and the Mad Dog to last a lifetime. Any time there is something negative to be brought up about the Mets, rest assured they'll beat it to death. They jumped on Cameron in 2004 when the guy was hurt and struggling -- it took him a year to get the fans back on his side. Were any of you "lucky" enough to catch the gloating party they had when Looper blew the opening game last season to the Reds? It was unbelievable. Then when they got flack about it -- I guess a lot of Mets fans complained they went over the top -- Francesa was pompously accusing Mets fans of not having a sense of humor. Then they complained when the Mets didn't cooperate with them for a while early last year. Clueless -- and arrogant. That should be their motto.
I thought the most ironic thing was when Chris Russo was branded a racist for getting on Minaya about allegedly favoring Hispanics. He really got a large black eye on the issue, especially in the print media -- and not just in New York. He swore he wasn't racist, but no one believed him. The irony was that I don't think he was being a racist. The Hispanic thing was just a way to be negative about Minaya and the Mets, and it blew up in his face. You got to love it.
Look. I'm not going to sit here and list all of the sins of the dim-witted duo. I'm not going to try to talk people out of listening to them that enjoy their show. I just wonder how many out there are like me -- we love New York sports, and we listen because we really have nowhere else to go for that. For me, it became like a drug addiction. I'd turn them on for my New York sports fix, but it wasn't even fun anymore. I'd listen for a while, not being entertained or enlightened, and eventually turn off the radio in disgust -- feeling vaguely dirty just for turning them on. I'm contributing to their ratings, which sells the commercials that pay their salaries, and I don't even enjoy their show. What's up with that?
I knew I had to save myself from this awful situation. It wasn't easy, but when I was in my car in the afternoon on the way to appointments, I turned on music and resisted the urge to turn on WFAN. I'll still listen to WFAN when Steve Somers or Beningo (if he's not on a real negative kick) or someone else I enjoy is on. I'll even flip on Mike and the Mad Dog if there is an interview I want to hear. I'll even listen to Michael Kay on ESPN radio -- in small doses.
At first it wasn't easy. I missed the company of sports talk when I was working on something boring. But then I thought about it, and wondered what I was really missing. Most of the time Russo and Francesa just annoyed me, anyway. And you know what? I really don't miss it. Bottom line -- if you enjoy listening to those two, more power to you. I'm not going to try to talk you out of that unhealthy addiction. But if you're like me, and have had enough, I'm here to tell you that you can free yourself -- that there is, indeed, life after Mike and the Mad Dog.