Well boys and girls, the Mets are at it again … making themselves look like paranoid schizophrenics with something to hide. Exhibit #927, the case of revoking press credentials for something other than urinating on the media spread, from Howard Megdal of the Journal News:
Since taking over the LoHud Mets Blog in March 2011, I have been credentialed numerous times by the New York Mets-100 percent of the time my editor here, Sean Mayer, has requested credentials. This is nothing new. In my years covering sports, I have been credentialed by every major sports team in the New York area, writing for ESPN.com, The New York Times, New York Magazine, The New York Observer, and many other outlets.
So it was odd that last week, Sean received a call from Jay Horwitz, the Director of Media Relations for the New York Mets, telling him that while the Journal News can continue to receive credentials, the Mets would not be credentialing me.
Sean asked why that was, and Jay responded that the Mets “don’t like his reporting”. The team declined to respond to my multiple attempts to reach them for a fuller explanation.
It’s important to know that Megdal penned a book called “Wilpon’s Folly“, which chronicles the Mets’ financial issues. It challenges the message that everything is fine from the Baghdad Bobs of the major leagues. It’s also important to know that plenty of other journalists have challenged that message. But Megdal is the one without membership in (and protection by) the BBWAA, so the Mets have seemingly made an example out of him.
Teams like to talk about “controlling their message”. Apparently this is how the Mets control their message … eliminating access to people whose reporting they don’t like. And it isn’t necessarily because it isn’t true, but because they don’t like it. Of course they wouldn’t like people talking about their financial status, they’d rather focus on what’s going on between the lines … which isn’t that great either but it’s the lesser of two evils. But is it really that hard to understand that instead of controlling the message, you light a match to it and watch it spread further than it ever did? Cutting off access to Howard Megdal isn’t going to silence his message. If anything, it will keep his message going and make sure that this is all anybody will be talking about. For heaven’s sake, everybody on twitter is talking about this now instead of just patiently waiting for spring training to start without talking about anything because there hasn’t been anything worth reporting since Frank Francisco passed his physical.
I did a talk for one of Greg Prince and Jon Springer’s Amazin’ Tuesdays at Two Boots Tavern, and a discussion broke out about whether the Mets should be more open with their finances. There was a strong opinion from the gallery that it was really nobody’s business and that the Mets were under no obligation to do so. On pure principal, that’s correct. But if the Mets want to control their message and end any and all speculation that their finances are a shambles, then maybe it would be a good idea to be more transparent and control the message. Instead of this message coming from Megdal or Adam Rubin or Bob Klapisch anybody who is reporting on it, the Mets can control their message with a little more transparency. But they don’t seem to want to control the message so much as they want to shove it under the couch. If the Mets believe that Megdal’s message contains “baseless speculation and complete inaccuracies“, then how about showing us? How about controlling your message? Or perhaps, just give us one and back it up? Because now the message is out of control and nobody is going to stop bringing it up until the money starts flowing in.
Now you might not care about all this. There are plenty of places to get your Mets news from, what’s one less, right? Besides, I just want to hear about who’s going to be the fourth starter and who’s batting cleanup and is Johan healthy and la la la la la la I can’t hear you la la la la la la la. And that’s fine. I get sick of it too sometimes. There’s nothing I want more than for all this crap about busted finances to be over so that Mets fans can talk about a pennant drive, or at the very least the exploits of a bad team on the field. We’re all tired of not only having to hear over and over again about how the Mets are broke, but about a lot of things that are over reported or over hyped by media outlets. Don’t let that take away from the reports that are important. The Mets financial situation is important to know about. It’s important because like it or not, it affects what you see on the field. You think the Mets fielding a team chock full of warm bodies just happens on its own? You think the Mets finances has nothing to do with that? We want to pretend it does sometimes, but the reality is there. And the more that reality is silenced … the more the Mets can avoid being badgered about this kind of stuff … then the more it gives this organization the leeway to put together a team that is just talented enough not to fall down every time they leave the dugout while making their profits through selling burgers. Yeah, maybe ownership’s hands are tied tight enough to prevent themselves from improving the team as it needs to be improved, but remember that they did it to themselves, and to an extent, they did it to us. Howard Megdal didn’t do it. Adam Rubin didn’t do it. Bob Klapisch didn’t do it. Nobody did this to the Mets except the Mets.
And by revoking anybody’s credentials because they “don’t like their reporting” means to me that if the Mets had the power to do it, they would do it to anybody who reports something that they don’t like, BBWAA member or not. That’s dangerous. That’s too much message controlling.
As fans, we all love the Mets. That’s why we need journalists to give us everything they can, good or bad. Rubin goes off on Mets injuries? Celebrate it. Megdal gives us the lowdown on the finances? Embrace it. Why? Because in the long run, it demands more from the Mets. It demands that things are run in a way that we can either be proud of when they’re winning, or not be embarrassed about when they’re losing. It doesn’t really matter if the Mets are good or bad, because teams are good sometimes and bad sometimes. I’d just rather be bad because the baseball decisions are screwed up than because the suits that run the place prevent people from making the decisions they need to. And if that’s the case, we need to know about this, and the Mets need to know that it’s unacceptable. They have too many enablers as it is.
Mets fans, especially now, deserve more. Journalism and transparency demand that we get more.