By Mike Steffanos
From the official press release on Mets.com:
WFAN's afternoon hosts Mike and the Mad Dog, Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, respectively, for the first time in station history, will call the live play by play and provide color analysis when the New York Mets face the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, May 25 at 1:10 PM at Shea Stadium. ... Following the game, the tables will be turned on Mike and Chris as Wilpon, Howard and an assortment of celebrities and WFAN listeners will have their chance to call in to analyze and critique Mike and the Mad Dog's play-by-play commentary.
Additionally, the Mets and Mike and Chris will donate a total of $30,000 to benefit a local Queens-based charity or charities. To raise additional funds, WFAN and the Mets will auction off a premium VIP package for the May 25th game that includes a trip to the broadcast booth to meet Mike and Chris.
WFAN Operations Manager Mark Chernoff said, "For years Mike and Chris have dished it out as arguably the harshest critics in the sports business. Never before have they set themselves up for such criticism and there's no guarantee they'll excel on the other side of the microphone. But in the name of charity we will deliver some great radio."
"The Mets are thrilled to expand our longtime partnership with WFAN for this special broadcast," said Wilpon. "We think it will be fun for fans tuning in, as well as Mike and Chris, but more important, the broadcast provides an opportunity for the Mets and WFAN to team up for charity in our home borough of Queens."
It's hard to argue against something that will benefit charity, and I've made no pretense of the fact that I don't care for these two, so I'm not exactly an unbiased observer here. In fact, I had decided that I was not going to voice an opinion in this matter, but after thinking about it I have to say something.
First of all, I understand this thing from the Mets point of view. It's a ton of free publicity, and a way to get a lot of people that wouldn't normally tune into a Mets game to give a listen next Thursday. It's an afternoon game, which I assume generates the smallest listening audience under normal circumstances. And I'm sure those "local Queens-based charities" will be very happy.
So why do I have a problem with this event? The Mets have decided to turn over an entire radio broadcast to 2 unskilled announcers for a publicity stunt. Repeat: an entire broadcast. And it's a game against the Phillies, who are shaping up to be the biggest competition for the Mets in the division.
It's a unique bond of trust that fans form with their team's announcers, especially on the radio where you are completely dependent on Howie Rose and Tom McCarthy to bring you the game. For those that have no option but the radio for this important game, this is a large breach of trust on the part of publicity hungry Mets management. Could you ever picture the Yankees pulling this on their fans?
I don't harbor any sort of hatred towards MATMD. I just don't care for their act and the cynical way they constantly bait Mets fans. Their gloating performance from opening day last year, when Looper blew Pedro's first game as a Met, still sticks in the craw of many Mets fans. Yet again, the team has elected to turn an entire game over to them. This whole thing just makes me shake my head with wonder. Does the Mets hierarchy really get the Mets fan?
Not all Mets fans dislike MATMD, to be sure. "Yuan" left the following comment on an earlier post:
I know a lot of people, including you Mike, feel that that show is a joke (and rightfully so sometimes), but I've found myself enjoying their commentary over the years. They bash the Mets and treat them like the 2nd team in NY, but to me it's always been done in a funny and not spiteful way.
After the Mets hot start this year, Russo opened up one show trying to find (jokingly) ways to "throw cold water" on the parade, and it the rare sports radio moment that made me really laugh. I mean it was genuinely funny stuff. I think it can be just as enjoyable to hear people who don't like your team talk about them.
That's cool that Yuan gets a kick out of them, and I'm sure there are plenty of other Mets fans that feel the same way. But there are plenty that don't, and to my mind it was irresponsible of the team to go so far over the top and hand those 2 an entire game. What might have been a cute stunt that few would have objected to for 2 or 3 innings has been carried to an extreme that makes no sense. I'm not going to make a huge deal of it here, but I felt I had to voice my disappointment with this decision. I hope they make a ton of money for worthy charities, but I for one won't be listening next Thursday.
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