A Diet Coke Sitz Bath

Books, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

Mike Francesa has always had an ego; such was expressed in a 1996 Sports Illustrated profile in which former WFAN program director Mark Mason said it was as “big as all outdoors”; but there’s a difference between believing what you so so fervently that you present it in a matter-of-fact way and don’t care one way or the other as to the reaction or response and not listening to dissent or acknowledging being wrong.

There’s something to be said for, “this is what I think; and if you don’t like it, too bad.”

But there’s a line between confidence and self-indulgent narcissism.

Francesa crossed that line long ago.

Now, he’s ventured into the world of arrogance meeting obfuscation meeting Diet Coke.

Interpreting what the subject of an interview is really saying by reading between the lines is an important part of being in the media; but twisting what the person said to suit one’s own needs is not only inaccurate, but it’s unprofessional.

Two years ago, the Mets had gotten off to a good start over the first 50 games and Francisco Rodriguez was fantastic early in the season; this was before injuries ravaged the entire team and relegated them to a laughingstock as 2009 was the next step in the downward spiral that they’re now trying to repair with a new baseball braintrust.

On the West Coast, Brian Fuentes was closing games for the Angels as K-Rod’s replacement; he got off to a terrible start and Francesa, discussing the Angels, Mets and K-Rod, said something to the tune of the Angels had openly admitted their mistake in letting K-Rod leave.

This struck me as a huge story. A team allowed their homegrown free agent closer to leave—the same closer who had set a record for saves in the previous year—and was now confessing that it was a mistake a month into the next season?

Wouldn’t that cause a tremor and aftershocks in the Angels clubhouse with Fuentes? With his teammates? With other players around baseball who would think it odd that the team was burying one of their players in favor of the one he replaced?

It was unheard of.

It was unheard of for a very good reason—it wasn’t true.

I scoured the web, searching for various stories in the California papers, ESPN, MLBTradeRumors and other sites to see if there was anything anywhere that indicated the Angels expressing regret—publicly—that they replaced K-Rod with Fuentes.

I didn’t find anything because it didn’t exist. Not even the worst-run teams in sports are going to allow themselves to be quoted ripping one of their players in favor of a former player—one they chose to let go.

Is it possible that someone told Francesa privately that the Angels regretted letting K-Rod go? Of course, but he didn’t provide any background to the assertion other than that the Angels regretted it and left it there as if his simple utterance was good enough for everyone to accept it.

It was a factoid. Not a fact.

Francesa’s gotten worse as he’s been left alone to do his own show without a partner to check him on the things he says that are in the realm of megalomania/egomania. I was no fan of Chris Russo, but he performed that function.

The dismissals of callers has gone on ad infinitum; but Francesa’s become delusional.

This week alone he made two ridiculous statements that are easily torn to shreds by anyone who has a basic concept of baseball.

His ironclad decree that the Yankees will always be able to stay toward the top of baseball because of their financial might sounds like it would come from a die-hard fan and not one who is supposedly the expert baseball analyst Francesa thinks he is.

Did he miss this past off-season in which the prize of the free agent crop, Cliff Lee, spurned the higher offer from the Yankees to go back to the Phillies because he was familiar with the team and atmosphere and straight out thought that the Phillies had a better chance to win?

Has he been paying attention to the new trend clubs (and players) are employing in signing long-term contracts to prevent said players from ever seeing free agency? It just happened with Ryan Braun and had previously occurred with Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Howard.

Here’s the math: the more young players who sign long-term deals to preclude their first few years of arbitration/free agency, the fewer will be available to sign with the Yankees or anyone else; nor will they be available via trade. Revenue sharing has allowed teams to spend money they heretofore didn’t have to try and compete with the Yankees.

Do you really think that Tim Lincecum is ever going to be a free agent while he’s still healthy and in his prime? That Felix Hernandez will be traded to the Yankees simply because the Yankees want him?

Those days are over and aren’t coming back. All they have to hang onto is their supposedly bursting farm system and the money to buy the aged veterans who are a massive risk—see the offer they made to Carl Pavano.

As for the farm system, you can rave about the “high-end” prospects like Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, but as the Phil Hughes injury and team-induced failure of Joba Chamberlain has proven, you cannot automatically expect a player to fulfill his hype just because there have been rules, regulations, news stories and overprotective measures enacted to place him in a box and “guarantee” success.

The Yankees are always going to be contenders?

Does he remember the fall of the Yankees dynasty from 1965 to 1975? When they couldn’t do anything right? It happens more quickly than you realize and all it takes is one crack to slowly allow seepage to poison the whole foundation until it comes crashing to the ground; it can happen to the Yankees; it can happen to anyone.

Age; terrible contracts; failed free agent acquisitions; unfulfilled promise of prospects; bad trades; injuries and the dearth of available replacements all contribute to such a downfall.

The pieces are in place for the Yankees right now.

Then we get to the most egregious of the Francesa assertions: that Mets GM Sandy Alderson had called around to other teams during their 5-13 start to try and clean out the house.

At least that’s what Francesa’s tone implied after his interview with Alderson in which Alderson said he was calling other GMs to “gauge the market”.

There’s a bit of a difference—no, there’s a giant difference—between calling another club and saying, “What are you willing to offer for Jose Reyes; David Wright; K-Rod; the light fixtures; Jeff Wilpon; whatever?” and calling to say, “If you’re ready to deal and we’re still playing like this, call us when the warm weather hits and we’ll talk about anyone.”

It all returns to the Francesa fantasy to “break up da core” of the Mets. He’s wanted it for so long; believes—again as is his right—that it was the right thing to do after the 2008 season and thinks it’s now a bit too late, but still an alternative.

But it’s not due to analysis. It’s the propping up of the self that’s so entrenched in his mind.

“I hafta be right.”

Much like his pre-season predictions in which he made such idiotic declarative statements like “I’ll pick the Twins because I always pick the Twins”, there was no research; no basis; no nothing. Just an agenda based on his own enormous opinion of himself.

It’s getting worse and worse as he transforms from irritating in his arrogance, but making a good point occasionally, to simply formulating stories that don’t exist and living in a universe all his own.


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3 thoughts on “A Diet Coke Sitz Bath

  1. Just wanted to let you know I loved your article, that’s dead on about Francesa.
    I belong to a site called themikefrancesa.com & thechrisrusso.com . With those names, you’d probably think it was a site dedicated to their greatness. Most use it now to complain about Mike and how horrible his show has gotten since Mad Dog left. They complain about how Mad Dog just isn’t the same with Francesa. We discuss sports in general and WFAN NY 660 AM.

    Again, spot on about Francesa. Great article. I’m going to check out your book as well. Have a nice day. – John (Johninga at themikefrancesa.com)

  2. I listened to the shows where he made both comments you are referring to. First, he’s absolutely right about the Yanks having a huge financial advantage largely from the multibillion dollar beast that is the YES Network. The Yanks of the 60’s you are referring to in comparison of a possible pending downfall is just stupid. What happened to the Yanks then has zero comparison to the change in finances and dynamics of today. Yes more teams are signing young players to long contracts but most of them only buy out a year or two of free agency so the idea the Yanks won’t have a shot at them or that teams won’t make them available in trades is delusional. In fact these contracts could FORCE teams to trade them before the deal expires if a team isn’t doing well financially since they would likely have been paying less if they went to arbitration. Talk about Mike…man your article is weak at worst and misleading at best. I don’t feel like typing anymore or I would continue. Good luck with that book.

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