Alderson Starts Never-Ending Honeymoon by Co-opting Mets Fans with Phone Calls and Pretty Words
The Evil Empire might still be in the neighborhood, but the planet Alderson is not scheduled for destruction
Last week, the Mets blargosphere was all a twitter over the inclusion of several blogs in a bonafide conference call with Sandy Alderson (though I couldn't help but notice that the gang from Sour PessimisticF*ckerMetsFanz.com were not invited). Full disclosure: I was only invited to the pager message exchange with J.P. Ricciardi, not the group call with the big cheese. Fuller disclosure: I may now be the only one even mildly concerned with the potential consequences for independently-minded "coverage" of the Mets in light of the Wilpon's wooing. Not that there are really any "independently" minded Mets commentators left out there; if we wanted that service, we'd still have sportswriters at our major newspapers (I keed)!
Jealous much? Yeah I was there.
But gosh it looks like the Alderson regime has oh so cunningly stroked the egos of those that are paying the most attention, that is, the obsessive fans with electronic diaries. With mainstream Met journalism looking increasingly bankrupt (not because they do a bad job necessarily, but the zeitgeist is bending them over and bloggers are happy to take their sloppy seconds without asking to be paid), and with the Mets having all but purchased one of the largest "fan blogs" out there to go along with their purchase of Mr.-First-Question Kevin Burkhart, it's not too outrageous to posit that the Mets probably won't be coming in for any serious criticism for the foreseeable future. And well they shouldn't, you may be saying...after all, they hired Sandy Alderson didn't they?
I'll say this for the Sandy love: I haven't seen someone take office in an organization with standards this low since our last presidential election, know what I'm sayin'?
Say what you want about the Deadspin guy, but the "without access...blah blah... without favor" part of their motto is what they got right. For me one of the fundamental characteristics of "blogs"--what makes them blogs instead of some other media or publicity outlet--is that they don't have access to the locker rooms, they don't sit on the team planes, don't know the players, don't have to polish the "Budweiser Hot Seat" etc. Access is not the value added here, it's being able to say whatever you damn please, and be as profane or fawning as you like. Am I saying you're a bad person if you accept your favorite team's offer to let your blogger ass go frolic in the dugout or hang out in the rich people seats? Of course not.
But I have to wonder about the long term effects. Systemically, the blogs have replaced the newspeople as sources for information and analysis, and these blogs, "staffed" by wide-eyed innocents like myself, are arguably more susceptible to influence than beat writers or commentators who report to and are accountable to editors and readers, etc. Who knows what the ramifications are or if they're even worth fretting about. Maybe we don't really need the critical distance of journalists to understand the sports world. If so, we may be on the road to that happy place, one where we believe whatever we're told and all Angels come from a town called Los Angeles of Anaheim.
So here's my question: all earnest appearances aside (and the Sandinator is getting rave reviews for his answers), are the Mets really reaching out to the bloggers because they value their service, opinions, commitment, etc.? Or because the corporation has tickets to an perpetually embarrassing, sub-par product to hock, and they know that our trusted blogs have the appearance of integrity and are perfectly positioned to serve as a platform for sales?
There you have it. The NY Mets are co-opting the Mets blargosphere. With some effort, I have strained to sound the world's first negative note about the new Met bosses, though if I am missing someone else's bitching in the blargosphere, do let me know.
[Along these lines, I was wondering what former Met maven Wallace Matthews has been up to, then remembered his mirthful messages are trapped behind Newsday.com's ridiculous pay wall. That website (which I refuse to link to) is now featuring "open access until January 7th," aka the who-are-we-kidding-special. Then I realized that W-Mat moved to EspnNY (which I will still link to for some reason) so I checked him out there and he seems to have totally forgotten about the Mets. He only covers the Yankers now, spending his time passionately defending the media's overcoverage of the Jeter contract jerkwagon. It all must be eating him up from the inside, having to be so positive. Anyhow, we won't have Wallace Matthews to kick us around anymore.]
Am I being overly negative about this conference call? Hypocritical? Short-sighted? Perhaps. But since there aren't too many Mets blogs out there that weren't in on the call, there aren't too many other blokes that will bother to float the argument that the Mets reaching out to their fanbase could be a bad thing. So you're welcome.
My classic statement on this issue notwithstanding, Noel Murray's take on the puzzle of why sports casting sucks is one of the better ones I have seen (H/T Berganator).
For reasons I can barely comprehend, I am now on Twitter, trying to hard to being pointlessly witty, and talking about what my stomach is doing. Good luck trying to follow me, I couldn't tell you how.