Mets’ Ownership Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Well, it just gets better and better for the Wilpons, doesn’t it? For an organization that tries its darnedest to put out nothing but positive PR, it sure has a funny way of achieving the exact opposite. The tighter the choke hold on the Mets’ message, the more mangled it becomes. Even what would be considered “good” news from and for Fred, Jeffy and Uncle Saul appears suspect. There were a couple of announcements last week, regarding the sale of shares of the club that have been met with suspicion, considering the purchasers of the shares include exactly one party who is not already intimately involved with the Sterling/Mets/Wilpon family. Never mind the fact that it was first announced that they would have ten shares sold by the end of January, then when that didn’t happen, that they would have five shares sold by the end of February. To me, this sounds exactly like the “updates” about any player on the DL: the infamous “day-to-day,” which would somehow turn into an at-least-three-month stint on the shelf. Just ask Johan Santana, Ike Davis, Jose Reyes – ooops! You can’t ask him, because he isn’t here anymore. Why is he not here anymore? Because the Wilpons can’t afford him. Which they continue to deny.

This is a nice segue to the latest act in the Wilpon follies. This time around, the issue is so petty and so childish that it would barely merit mention, were it not at the expense of one of our blogging brethren. A while ago, just prior the firing of GM Omar Minaya, my friend Howard Megdal launched an internet campaign to be “elected” general manager of the Mets. It was a terrific summation of the frustrations of the Mets’ fan base and a call for common sense – a commodity seemingly lacking in the back halls of Citi Field at the time. Once Sandy Alderson and his merry band consisting of J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta were hired – the perfect squadron to bring the qualities Howard was espousing: logic, transparency and passion — the website became a book, which got some good press and sold pretty well. It should be noted that Howard Megdal, throughout all this, was issued press credentials by the club on numerous occasions, as he had gotten a regular gig writing the LoHUD Mets Blog. At the time, I thought the team “got it,” for once, as evidenced by the Alderson/Ricciardi/DePodesta hirings.

Charlie Hangley, wrong again. Fast forward to a couple of months ago. Howard has written another book, Wilpon’s Folly, detailing the financial woes of the family in the wake of the Madoff scandal. This e-book is apparently accurate, according to those who’ve read it and know about such things – I haven’t yet read it, seeing as I’m without a Kindle and Nook-less. Almost before those pixels were set, the howls from Queens could be heard from North Hartford to Canarsie. To say it was a swift denial would be an insult to swift denials. And for a kicker, the press release also threw in a couple of snarky comments about self-promotion and grandstand plays. Adam Rubin might have found that sound familiar. OK, I know Howard Megdal and I know he can take a proverbial punch. Sticks and stones, and all that. However…

Yesterday, it came to light that this year, Howard would not be issued a press credential by the Mets. PR guru Jay Horwitz himself informed Megdal’s editor at LoHUD that the team “didn’t like his reporting.” Could the Wilponic skin be any thinner? The clear message is, “Talk nice or we won’t play with you.” It’s a shameless, ham-fisted attempt to control the dialogue. If I’m LoHUD, I ask the team to pull the credentials for all my reporters. And if I’m another courageous New York City news outlet, I ask my staff’s credentials be pulled, as well. How does no coverage sound, Jeffy? You can sit and wonder about the acres of empty Citi Field seats.

And the saddest part of the whole thing? I’m not surprised.

It’s damn shame.

#freehowardmegdal

9 comments for “Mets’ Ownership Is Its Own Worst Enemy

  1. Brian Joura
    February 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Good stuff Charlie!

    One thing which I wonder about is how involved the Wilpons actually were in this particular decision. I think it’s entirely possible that the decision to refuse to credential Howard did not come from the owner or the owner’s son.

    Back in 2003, the Hall of Fame was going to honor the movie Bull Durham on its 15th anniversary. Then it got canceled because Dale Petroskey, the then-President of the HOF, didn’t like the political view points of two of the actors from the movie. Fast forward a few years and Petroskey was forced out of his position. Here’s a quote from the MLB.com story on the ouster:

    “The resignation is the result of our finding that Dale Petroskey failed to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility and it follows other business judgments that were not in the best interest of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.”

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080325&content_id=2458145&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

    So, here was a guy running his own little fiefdom within the Hall of Fame, making decisions that had nothing to do with baseball but rather on his own view of the world and what he thought would gain him favor with other powerful people, including old friends of his in the Republican Party.

    Now, is there any employee of the Mets you can think of who holds a lot of power and runs his own little fiefdom and would have no problem executing an order that he thought would please his friends and/or superiors?

    Hmmm…

  2. Brian Joura
    February 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    If you’re curious for other viewpoints on this issue, check out this from Mack Ade:

    http://macksmets.blogspot.com/2012/02/mack-and-company-on-howard-megdal.html

  3. John Malay
    February 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Not sure that old media reporters think that bloggers should have press credentials in the first place. Don’t look for too much sympathy.

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      The key phrase, here, John, is “Howard Megdal…was issued press credentials by the club on numerous occasions.” More of a game-by-game thing than anything permanent.

      I still think this sends a pretty clear — and disturbing — message…

    • Brian Joura
      February 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      The other issue is that Howard was not getting these credentials as a blogger. He was representing the Journal News, a Gannett company publication. And the Mets called the Journal News to tell them that they would not credential Howard. They didn’t even wait for the JN to call and ask for a credential.

  4. February 8, 2012 at 3:49 am

    As a credentialed member of the media (not by the Mets of course), I can tell you no other outlet would sacrifice coverage of a professional sports team to send a message. There may be messages of support for Howard in other publications, but don’t expect to see Newsday drop the team.

    What Medgal should do, if he’s intent in stoking the fire further, is find new and/or creative ways to get much of the same information. Show the Wilpons not only did they earn bad publicity for their decision, but it won’t stop him from going to press with it.

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