Monday, March 8, 2010

Digging Through Out of Touch Journalism: Bill Madden Edition

After opening their Spring Training slate last week, the Mets' record stands at 5-2. Most people are of the mind that Spring Training records don't matter (the '86 Mets finished with a .500 Grapefruit League record), but most fans would also prefer for the Mets to be 5-2 instead of 2-5. Since Spring Training began, no Mets have gone down with injuries. There have been no controversies. The top prospects every New York scribe claimed to not exist before March (Jenrry Mejia, Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez, Ruben Tejada etc...) have opened eyes.

To one man, though, as we sit here on March 8th, the Mets' "Preseason glow has begun to fade." Hall of Fame writer Bill Madden (above with George Steinbrenner) is getting his Wallace Matthews on this morning, with an ill conceived and foolish opinion piece about what he believes to be the slow crumbling of the Mets' 2010 season. Let's take a closer look at his article:

Ever since David Wright's chipper "we expect to be in the postseason" and Johan Santana's "I'm the best pitcher in the National League East" inaugural addresses, the sunny optimism at Camp Met has been muted by Jose Reyes' thyroid condition, Frankie Rodriguez's pinkeye and Kelvim Escobar's idleness.

The optimism has been muted? That's not the way even the most pessimistic Mets fans have reacted to the events of the last week. The majority of the fans are actually extremely encouraged with the growth of the prospects, the fact that no one has gone down with an injury, and the fact that the players seem to be loose and confident. I'm not sure how Francisco Rodriguez's bout with pink eye (he's back at camp today) "muted" any optimism. People get pink eye, they go away for a while to recover, and then they come back - like Frankie did today. No one has been talking about Kelvim Escobar, especially since Ryota Igarashi has looked very good, Kiko Calero has been signed to take Escobar's place, and Jenrry Mejia has looked dominant. The Jose Reyes issue is another story, and while no one can be certain about what will come of it, the likelihood is that Reyes will be treated for his thyroid issue and be back playing games within the week.

We tell ourselves, the Mets tell themselves, it's still early March. Plenty of time left in the spring to get that feel-good mojo (not to mention two key players) back. Things could be worse.

Who is this "we" Madden speaks of? Did he mean to say I? Madden states that there's "plenty of time get that feel-good mojo back." Where did it go? Seems to me (and every other objective person) that the Mets are full of optimism right now. I'll agree with Madden that "things could be worse," since they are actually going extremely well right now.

Amid this ominous backdrop, the Mets chose Sunday to announce that single-game tickets are now on sale for the 2010 season - the same day Ollie Perez was making his first start of the spring. Talk about pressure. And Odd Ollie, who didn't provide a whole lot of reassurance that 2010 is going to be much different than 2009, admitted he felt it.

What "ominous backdrop" is Madden referring to? Does this "backdrop" have something to do with David Wright regaining his power stroke, Ike Davis going 8 for 14, Fernando Martinez hitting close to .700 thus far, Jenrry Mejia's dazzling display, or the fact that nearly every bullpen arm the Mets have thrown out there has been effective? The fact that Madden attempted to tie his imaginary "ominous backdrop" and Oliver Perez's first Spring Training start (where the only objective was to throw strikes) into some mistake by the club to put tickets on sale yesterday is completely moronic. I don't think any Mets fan is going to run out and buy tickets or decide to not buy tickets, based on the first Spring Training start by the Mets' likely third or fourth starter.

For what it's worth, at least Perez was able to throw strikes - 33 in 49 pitches. Unfortunately, in pitching to contact, he allowed the visiting Washington Nationals to make plenty of it. The enigmatic $36 million lefthander gave up three runs in the first inning, including a towering home run to 6-5 rookie first baseman Mike Morse.

Did Madden even watch the game? The home run that Ollie gave up to Mike Morse was a line drive. Does Madden know the difference between a line drive and a "towering" shot? I suppose not...which isn't surprising, since it seems that he doesn't know the difference between optimism and pessimism either.

I have nothing against Bill Madden as a person, but articles like the one he wrote today are a perfect example of why blogs and other online sites may eventually leave print journalism in the dust. In a poor attempt at "the sky is falling" journalism (and in an effort to scare Mets fans), Madden exposed himself as someone who is completely detached from reality. While some of the less than die-hard fans may buy into his assertions, the true ones shake their heads at it - before casting his paper aside and relying on eachother for accurate information regarding the Mets.

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