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Mets Media Coverage Has Become Monotonously Predictable

Mike SteffanosFriday, April 10, 2009
By Mike Steffanos

Before I get into today's rant, I'd like to take a moment to pass along news from Lynn Cohen that GaryKeithandRon.com has just come out with a cool new Ralph Kiner t-shirt.

According to Lynn:

Just in at GaryKeithandRon.com comes their first t-shirt honoring baseball legend--and Mets broadcasting hero--Ralph Kiner. Pre-order this heather gray tee with its retro-style design declaring yourself in "Kiner's corner" before April 13th and save $5 off the $25 price. All proceeds go to the Mets' broadcasters favorite charities. Gary, Keith, and Ron couldn't be more excited to have Ralph Kiner join their corner!

So what are you waiting for?

Now to the rant.

I travelled around the country quite a bit in my younger years. Having grown up in a large and relatively sophisticated media market, I was often struck by the way sports are covered in other cities. The coverage in some markets had a deferential, almost cheerleader-esque quality to it. I appreciated that, even in an era that was notably less confrontational and critical than today, I was exposed to a way of thinking about sports that was more nuanced and analytic than the "us good guys vs. them bad guys" style of the hinterlands.

I guess you can carry anything good too far, however, and nowadays I find media coverage in this market has become more cynical and over the top. A case in point is the almost unrelentingly negative tone of the New York media's coverage of the Mets this season.

From day one of spring training it seems that every piece of bad news was milked for as much mileage as possible.

Remember when Santana's elbow was bothering him early on? Johan kept insisting it was normal, but we read one thing after another trying to portray every little twist and turn in that story as dark and sinister. As it turned out, we should have all just listened to Santana and saved ourselves the worry.

Then the exhibition season got underway, and each and every start by a Mets starter was picked apart and analyzed for signs of impending doom. Pelfrey, Maine, Perez and the fifth starter candidates weren't even given a couple of outings to ease into the season. Those of us who have followed this game for a long time could only shake our heads in wonder at this insanity.

Now we sit all of three games into the season, and everything is still being dissected and parsed into unrelenting negativity.

In today's New York Post, Mike Vaccaro offers up one of the most pathetically transparent examples of this sort of mindlessly hysterical coverage that Mets fans are being bombarded with. Mike won't even take a moment to consider that things might work out with this staff, he's already fanning the flames of calling for a big deal to be struck.:

... Each of the starters behind Santana has his own concerns: Pelfrey's putting serious innings on his arm for the first time; Maine's shoulder; Ollie's head; Hernandez' birth certificate. If they replicate their best, it could be a hell of a rotation. The worst? Well, we've already seen that on back-to-back days.

The more we do, the more there will be pining for Peavy, and for Halladay, the more you will hear folks at Citi Field begin to wonder aloud how much a certain pitcher named Pedro might have left in the tank. There's time for everyone to settle in, sure. Just not as much time as everyone may think.

I like Vaccaro's use of the word "we", as if he has something personal at stake here beyond a desire to have overwrought Mets fans read his column and think he's one of us. The truth is that he's just cynically yanking our chain.

Believe it or not, there are teams that are legitimate playoff contenders that have more rotation questions than ours. Yet fans of these clubs are allowed to settle into the season a little and not forced to live and die on every game.

I singled out Vaccaro today but, in fairness, he was just the most blatant example of what was out there. You just can't escape it anymore.

A baseball season is long. What is happening in games 1-3, for good or ill, isn't necessarily what will be happening five months from now. It's a sport that demands patience and a long attention span, and neither commodity seems much in supply these days. Whatever happened to being a "professional" journalist?

I'm 50 years old, and old school enough to feel sadness and loss as more and more newspapers disappear from the landscape. The truth of the matter is, however, that if the only way they can hang on is by abandoning all traces of objective, rational reporting, then maybe they're already irretrievably lost.

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.

Comments (2)

I agree Mike, about the state of newspapers today. The complete lack of honest reporting (or even real investigative reporting) by the New York Times and it's sister papers, irregardless of one's political leanings, is shameful and downright aggravating. I don't bother reading them because I don't trust them. And it's one of the major reasons why they're dying out- they got comfortable in their echo chamber and forgot that they need to reach out to their audience at large- and have failed to do so.

It's no different for sports reporting, and it's kinda sad when the media picks on the Mets (or other teams) with biased and slanted reporting.

The actual games should tell them all they need to know: Johan was effective in his first start, Pelfrey settled down after a rough first inning, and Maine was good in his start today, (5 IP, 2ER, only 83 pitches with 5 K and 1BB) as well. The jury's out on Livan and Ollie, but that's for different reasons, and even with Ollie, his fastball yesterday was hovering at 90 MPH. He's not ready yet.

And I must ask: what did Vaccaro mean by "back to back days"? Pelfrey's pitching was solid after a rough 1st inning. Ollie, for sure, had problems. But "back to back days"? He didn't watch the games, did he?

"Those of us who have followed this game for a long time could only shake our heads in wonder at this insanity."

It's not just those. I'm 27, and saying I've been following for a long time would be a bit of a stretch, but I just can't buy into this garbage. It's one of the reasons I'm not sad to see the newspapers go, if they're not going to adapt. I see the issue with plenty of people that have been following for decades. The people that aren't hardcore blog readers, etc, etc, and still get a lot of their info from newspapers will then read this smoke and see fire.

It's the 'hot' story for some reason. It could just as easily be Sabathia's inning load, A.J. Burnett's health, Wang's recovery, Pettite's age and Joba's pitch count and laboring innings. I don't see the answer, but I'm tired of fighting it. I don't think it's fair that Wright gets criticized every time he doesn't drive a ball to the opposite field with a guy on, or listen to Castillo booed everytime he takes a strike without a swing.

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