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A Regrettable Piece of Journalism

Mike SteffanosMonday, June 23, 2008
By Mike Steffanos


I know many other bloggers have already weighed in on this, but I'd like to add my two cents. I thought this piece by beat writer Bart Hubbuch in yesterday's New York Post was really borderline disgraceful.

Some who have shared their opinion on this have been inclined to give Hubbuch somewhat of a pass and blame the headline writer. I can't agree with that line of thinking. To my mind, Hubbuch clearly crosses a line within the body of the article (my emphasis):

Angry Mets fans are a big pile of ... fertilizer?

Manager Jerry Manuel apparently thinks so, at least when it comes to their harsh treatment of reliever Aaron Heilman at Shea Stadium this season.

Adding to his fast-developing reputation for outrageous comments, the Mets' interim boss compared the atmosphere at home for Heilman with manure today.

... Manuel, who already has put his foot in his mouth repeatedly since replacing Willie Randolph just six days ago, then tried to soften the metaphor.

"Fertilizer is a good thing," Manuel said before the Mets' afternoon contest against the Rockies. "It's a good thing. You get the greatest results - get the most beautiful plants - when you put it in that type of fertile soil. That's what we have the opportunity to do."

Manuel, who will make his first appearance at Shea Stadium as manager of the Mets tomorrow against Seattle, pleaded with reporters before and after the fertilizer reference not to blow it out of proportion or do "something crazy with this."

Manuel, though, has been no stranger to crazy statements since taking over for Randolph.

The AL Manager of the Year in 2000 with the White Sox, Manuel already has sounded at times as if he wants to be as opinionated and unpredictable as Ozzie Guillen, the manager who replaced him in Chicago.

It's clear from the tone that it's written that this is a "gotcha" piece on the part of the writer. I think the items I highlighted in bold show this indisputably. Manuel seems to be repeatedly misrepresented by the use of deliberate and obvious exaggeration on the part of the writer.

While Manuel has certainly been quirky, the idea that he is some sort of loose cannon "repeatedly" putting his foot in his mouth is ridiculous. The comparison to Guillen is even more so. And referencing Manuel's plea not to blow his words out of proportion and then actually doing so is simply slimy.

For evidence that this story wasn't an accurate reflection of Manuel's words, check out the following from Steve Popper and Adam Rubin. Only WFAN, for slimy reasons of their own, chooses to portray this as the Post did.

One of the many things that undid Willie Randolph was his paranoia with the media. It also made reporters jobs a lot harder. I suspect that Hubbuch did neither himself nor his colleagues any favors with this one. If I were Jerry Manuel, I'd be more guarded in my dealings with the press after this.

Inevitably there will be some who will buy into this and boo Jerry Manuel tonight. That's too bad. He's got enough to worry about in trying to coax this club out of their mediocre death spiral.

As for me, if he can get this team to win, I could care less if he actually does think we Mets fans are all fertilizer.

Jon Heyman on Willie's Firing
You've read one piece after another putting the Mets on a par with the Nazis and serial killers for the way Willie Randolph was fired. SI.com's Jon Heyman has an article about it that manages to avoid both hysteria and hyperbole and tells the story from all sides. Excellent piece.

Toby's Mets Minor League Blog
I had an email last week from someone that wanted to know what happened to RHP Mike Devaney, who pitched for the Mets' AA affiliate in Binghamton last season. I couldn't find anything on Devaney, so I emailed Toby and asked if he knew anything.

Toby was nice enough to find out for me that Devaney had been released by the Mets this spring. My sincere thanks, and an unsolicited plug:

A strong farm system is becoming more and more vital for major league teams to compete going forward. No one covers the Mets minor leagues better than Toby Hyde at his Mets Minor League Blog.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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