The Real Reason WFAN Dropped the Mets

The Mets have no one to blame but themselves.

Not just for another season in the red, their fifth consecutive season below .500 – way below .500 – but for the recent decision by WFAN, their official flagship radio station of the past 26 years, to not renew their contract to carry Mets games to make a deal with their crosstown rival Yankees.

Essentially, WFAN filed for a divorce.

Of course, any corporate decision made anywhere in this country, arguably the world, is ruled by money, but in this case it was also hinged by wins and losses. As in mostly wins by the Yankees, and losses by the Mets.

WFAN waved goodbye because for the past 26 years, the Yankees have won way more games than the Mets, and that translates to more money in the till, but more so, the Yankees have played way more games in the postseason than the Mets, and that’s where the really big bucks accumulate. More games – more postseason games – means more airtime, more commercial time, more revenue, more exposure overall, and so on.

When the Mets season is over, as it has been frequently in the last half-decade with the final pitch of the regular season, they’re left with filling airtime at night with the likes of Steve Somers. Now who doesn’t like schmoozing with Steve Somers, we grant you, an infectious listen, no doubt. But if you’re in the postseason, as the Yankees generally are – even with this season’s conclusion in doubt – those extra games can rake in much more revenue than The Schmoozer (sorry, Steve).

There are some who might believe that WFAN switched because Mike Francesca, their popular afternoon host, is an unabashed Yankees fan, but nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Miked Up has been a Yankee rooter his entire life, and certainly the entire 26-year run of the Mets “on the FAN,” but that didn’t initiate any contractual changes during this time.

No, it’s always about the Benjamins, as they say, and this was no exception.

In 1987, when WFAN came into existence, inheriting the Mets from the reincarnated WHN 1050 AM station, station execs gladly welcomed Mets games into their programming, bracketing the games with longer than was the norm pre and post-game shows while promoting the games literally 24 hours a day as the nation’s first all-sports radio station.

And they said it wouldn’t last!

Actually, they said that about ESPN, too, the first all-sports television station – that launched in 1982 – and now both formats have spawned hundreds of copies.

In a way, you could say ESPN TV gave birth to WFAN radio, but that’s another story.

In 1987, the Mets were the “It” team, the toast of New York, the World Champions of baseball. These were the Doc and Darryl, Keith and Carter, Mookie and Wally Mets. They were on the back pages. They were on the front pages. Sometimes for the wrong reasons, but that’s another story, too. Still, they were the water cooler team of New York.

They Yankees? Yeah, they were good, too, but no matter how many games they won, or how many batting titles and other individual achievements they could muster, they could never find their way into the postseason, despite the heroics of Don Mattingly, the antics of Dave Winfield, and the legs of Rickey Henderson.

WFAN was so enamored with having the Mets that they threw the switch from being WHN to WFAN, from frequency 1050 AM to 660 AM at Shea Stadium on July 1, 1987. Legendary radio host Don Imus, was given the honor of pushing the button, or whatever it was that actually zapped over to the new location on the dial.

Imus was a holdover from the previous regime at WNBC, which held the 660 frequency for many years. His morning show gave The Fan immediate gravitas, humor, and headlines.

And by the way, in case you have forgotten, or never knew, it was Imus who nicknamed Chris Russo, the Mad Dog. One morning, during one of Russo’s wild and crazy rants, Imus proclaimed, “You’re like a mad dog!” It stuck. So next time you listen to the doggie on satellite radio, know where that came from.

So here we are, about two weeks left to go in the season, and the Mets are without a radio home for 2014. But fear not, baseball audiophiles. Mets exec Jeff Wilpon announced immediately after WFAN officially said adios that negotiations were under way with a new radio partner for ’14. You could say the lead horse in the race is WEPN, the radio version of ESPN in New York, but nothing is definite yet, and there could be a dark horse candidate.

WFAN is a 50,000Watt radio station, the strongest signal the government will allow. There are a total of seven such stations in New York Metro, among them WEPN, WABC (a former Mets residence at the very beginning, from 1962-63), WCBS AM, WINS, WOR, WBBR, and WQEW.

In the recent Arbitron ratings “book,” as it is known, three of those stations made it to the Top Ten, including WFAN, WINS, and WCBS AM. In fact, the FAN made a very strong showing, coming in at No. 10 overall, with a 3.8. That means 3.8% of the radio audience listens to the FAN during the course of a week, and that includes all shows and games. WEPN, by comparison, rated just a 1.6.

However, in the all-important category of listeners aged 25-54, the demographics brought this competition a little closer, with the FAN again topping EPN, 5.5 to 2.9.

Those are radio’s stats. Those are their batting titles, win totals, and ERA. Those are the numbers that sets the ad rates, and everything else hinges off of that.

So if the Mets switch allegiances to ESPN does that mean their ratings will suffer? Perhaps a bit, but not necessarily because of the switch to a different radio station.

It’s still all about the wins and losses.

And one last “by the way.” WFAN switched from handling Jets games to Giants games some years ago for the exact same reason they just courted their new girlfriend in the Bronx.

ADDENDUM: METS RADIO HISTORY

In what will be their 54-year history next year, the Mets will have made eight radio station switches. They started on WABC (1962-63), then made their first association with WHN (at the time a country music station, by the way) from 1964-66. They jumped to WJRZ from 1967-71 (which leads to an interesting trivia question regarding what station Mets fans first heard them win a World Championship in 1969). It was back to WHN from ’72-74, then another migration to WNEW AM from ’75-’77. The WMCA “Good Guys” broadcast Mets games ’78-’82, and it was back to WHN from ’83-87 until Imus “pushed the button.”

Posted under Airtime, Andy Esposito, Benjamins, Commercial Time, Corporate Decision, Extra Games, Fifth Consecutive Season, Flagship Radio Station, Mets Games, Mike Francesca, Miked, New York Mets, No Doubt, Pitch, Postseason Games, Real Reason, Schmoozing, Sorry Steve, Top Story, Yankee

Dickey and Davis Lead the Way in 4-0 Victory over Cardinals

New York – Starting pitcher R.A. Dickey went a season-high eight and one-thirds innings, giving up only four hits to help the New York Mets (52-50) blank the St. Louis Cardinals (56-46) by the score of 4-0 in afternoon baseball at Citi Field on Thursday.

Dickey (7-4) was able to stretch his scoreless streak this afternoon, to a career-best 17.0 consecutive innings, which dates back to the fifth inning of his start on July 20th at Arizona. Along with stretching his scoreless streak Dickey helped to lead the Mets to their major-league leading 14th shutout of the year.

It was noticed by Dickey along with young catcher Josh Thole saw that sometimes the knuckleball wasn’t going to always make the other team swing and miss, so instead today the two were able to have a game plan which kept the Cardinals off balance.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel was impressed with how the starter could recognize that saying, “Yes, especially for a pitch like the knuckleball, which is difficult to tell what direction it is going to go, even for the catcher. He and Josh have worked very well together to identify what makes them successful.”

Thole who has had the opportunity to catch Dickey in Triple-A affiliate Buffalo noticed one change in the starter, “His secondary pitches make the difference.  It helps to have those secondary pitches and he has really worked on them and it has made him a more successful pitcher.”

“I tried to change speeds and was able to keep them (the Cardinals off balance today,” Dickey said of his start. “The trend for anytime a pitcher has a shutout is when that pitcher has command of the strike zone and I was able to do that today.”

For St. Louis starter Blake Hawksworth was the recipient of a tough loss in this afternoon’s game (4-7) going six innings, giving up seven hits and four runs along with three walks and three strike outs.

In a game which featured many ground balls along with some fine defensive plays neither team was able to get on the board until the bottom of the third inning. Jose Reyes got the Mets going by ripping a double (18) to right field. Reyes was able to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, which dates to July 19th 2010. Outfielder Angel Pagan followed with a ground ball infield single, which thanks to his speed he was able to beat out and set the stage for rookie sensation Ike Davis.

Davis lifted the first pitch in his at bat over the Nikon sign in center field for his 15th home run of the season, and gave the Mets a comfortable 3-0 lead. For Davis, who had a day off in yesterday’s game,  the 15 homers are the fifth-most by a Mets rookie in franchise history, holding the overall record is the future Met Hall of Famer Darryl Strawberry with 26 in 1983.

On being able to provide clutch hitting in his first year with the club Davis said, “It is all about the confidence you have as a hitter, you need to be able to go up to the plate and have confidence in your swing. You can have that exact same swing but if you don’t have confidence it won’t go very far.” The first baseman continues by saying, “If I hit it well enough I expect the ball to go out of the park. If I am able to get the barrel of the bat to center or to right, I know for sure it will go out. I just wanted to stay through it and not roll it over.”

Dickey would continue to keep the Cardinals guessing in the top of the fifth inning. One huge ground out was when second baseman Skip Schumaker to hit into a infield double play, along with getting  Yadier Molina to hit into another ground out on a nice backhanded play by rookie Mike Hessman, who was playing third base for New York in the game. Hessman looked good making two nice backhanded grabs in the hot corner in this afternoon’s game.

The Mets would get on the board one last time in the bottom of the fifth inning as Angel Pagan ripped a triple (7) to the right field crevice. Center fielder Carlos Beltran would plate that fourth New York run by lacing a single to left field to give New York the 4-0 lead.

“I am good to go and I just want to be out there and help the team win,” Beltran said after the game. “The main thing for me is that I need to come into the ballpark before the game and do my pre-game routine, which started in St. Lucie, and it will be something that stays with me for the rest of my career.”

Ground balls would continue to greet the Mets infielders as Dickey would induce seven alone in the later innings to keep the Cardinals off the board. In the top of the eighth inning the starter found some trouble as the rain started to come down as Schumaker hit a single to right field to try to start the Cardinals offense, a wild pitch placed the runner on second for pitch hitter Randy Winn. Dickey was able to get out of trouble by getting a hard hit ground ball to Alex Cora to end the inning.

“It is great for us to play behind Dickey,” Davis said after the game. “It is hard sometimes when the pitchers throw the balls outside the strike zone then we stay on your heels a little, but Dickey works so fast and he keeps us on our toes.”

New York would try to add one last run in the bottom of the eighth as Hessman was hit in the shoulder by Cardinal reliever Mike MacDougal. Jose Thole worked a walk to have runners on first and second for Jeff Francoeur. Unfortunately for the 40,087 the outfielder hit a high pop up to first base for the first out. Alex Cora worked a walk, before Dickey hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out. The bases were loaded for Jose Reyes, who hit a hard ground ball for the final out of the inning.

Top of the ninth inning was greeted by a huge cheer as Dickey took the hill to close out the game. Pinch hitter Colby Rasmus singled to center for the fourth St. Louis hit. Felipe Lopez advanced Rasmus on a ground ball to Ike Davis for the first out. A walk to rookie Jon Jay placed runners on first and second for the dangerous duo of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Dickey would not find out how he would have fared against the two big bats as manager Jerry Manuel called for reliever Francisco Rodriguez who got the last two outs and sealed the 4-0 victory for New York.

“This is one of those wins that you point too and hope that it can turn your season around, “Dickey said. “Yesterday was a heartbreaker, but we had no time to think about it. Today you really saw the character of this team and we really have a shot until the end of the season.”

The Mets will now open a three game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks as righty Mike Pelfrey (10-5, 4.00 ERA) takes on Ian Kennedy (5-8, 4.10 ERA) in a 7:10 p.m. Friday night game at Citi Field.

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Trade News: The National League East got a whole lot tougher today as the Philadelphia Phillies acquired Roy Oswalt in a trade with the Houston Astros in exchange for pitcher J.A. Happ and minor league prospects Jonathan Villar and Anthony Gose.

Story originally posted on www.latinosports.com

Posted under Baseball, Blake Hawksworth, Buffalo, Fifth Inning, Game Plan, Ground Balls, Josh Thole, Knuckleball, Major League, New York Mets, Pitch, Pitches, Recipient, Scoreless Streak, Shutout, St Louis Cardinals, Starting Pitcher, Strike Zone, Top Story, Victory, Walks

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on July 30, 2010

Mets get another series opening win against Twins

New York – When they get to the dog days of August and the September stretch, the New York Mets will certainly know that winning the first game of a series was important, And it certainly looks like the Mets could have an interesting final two months of the season based on what has been happening as June nears a conclusion.

Friday evening at Citi Field, with starter Mike Pelfrey on the mound, New York improved to 16-9 in the first game of a series with their 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. They have won seven straight series openers, 11-2 at their home park.

But when Denard Span hit a game leadoff home run on a 0-1 pitch, the ball traveling and going over the 358 sign in left, Pelfrey made it look like it would be a struggle, from the onset for the Mets to get another opening series win.

“I stayed in there and kept trying to grind,” said Pelfrey (10-2) who got the win in six innings of work. He allowed two runs and six hits and did not walk a batter in getting his sixth win in nine starts at home.  “It was tough” said Pelfrey because that leadoff home run by Span, his third, may have been hard to overcome.

The Twins in a battle for first place with Detroit in the American League central, ahead by a half game coming in, are a tough team to retire. “That team is very good,” said Pelfrey who threw 117 pitches. “They made me work out there and fouled off a lot of pitches.”

But one thing about this Mets team is their resilient approach to come from behind. They did it again against Twins starter Kevin Slowey. They scored three runs in the fourth started by a Jose Reyes soft single, later scoring on a David Wright RBI double.

So Pelfrey had the lead, and the Mets once again played small ball and errorless baseball. Wright would also hit a solo home run in the sixth, off Slowey that gave the Mets their fifth run, his 13th of the season, and with two more runs batted in has 37 in his last 37 games.

“I’m in a good spot right now, I feel good,” said Wright who came into the game leading the National League in RBI.  “He seems very confident at the plate at this time and that’s a good sign for us,” said Mets manager Jerry Manuel about the resurgence of Wright who hit his third home run at Citi Field this season.

And it is the small ball that has the Mets also feeling confident. They remained a half game behind first place Atlanta as they play game two of the series Saturday afternoon with ace Johan Santana on the mound.

“Small ball in a big ball park” said Manuel.  He added, as was the case in this game, “We won’t give them the momentum,” meaning his team which got their 11th come from behind win of the season will stay competitive when they don’t score first.

GAME NOTES FROM THE METS:   Carlos Beltran went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk as the designated hitter with St. Lucie of the Florida State League in his second rehabilitation assignment.   Outfielder Angel Pagan, day-to-day with a muscle pull said he feels better and may be in the lineup Saturday.

“Tomorrow I am going to swing and see what happens,” commented Pagan who said that rest, treatment and exercise were a part of the regiment the past two days. Pagan has missed the last two games and is rumored to be a player in a possible trade that would bring pitcher Cliff Lee to the Mets…

Ruben Tejada a natural shortstop, and at second, for the injured Luis Castillo is playing the position well and also connecting at the plate. He extended his hitting streak to nine games with a double in the fifth inning and the streak is the second longest for a rookie in the major leagues this season.

“He is playing with confidence and I am surprised about his ability to play second base,” said Manuel about his rookie that is part of a Mets home grown infield that includes Wright at third, Reyes at short, and Ike Davis at first….

Jason Bay may once again be seeing the ball better and his ability to drive in runs makes the Mets lineup that more potent, as was expected when he was picked up in the off-season. “He’s one of those guys that when he gets hot he gets going,” said Maunel. Bay had a run scoring double in that third inning and has driven in two in the last two games….

With three more scoreless innings of relief the Mets pen has pitched 21.1 scoreless innings dating back to the eighth inning on June 17th, allowing 15 hits, walking seven and striking out 25.  Francisco Rodriguez got his 17th save though giving up two singles in the ninth. He also is having some stiffness in his back which prompted Manuel to see him on the mound

Rodriguez admitted it has been something he has been dealing with and he recently took a anti-inflammatory shot. Manuel sees no reason for concern though speculation persists that the Rodriguez failure to get through an easy inning may be attributed to the stiffness.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under American League Central, Baseball, Conclusion, David Wright, Days Of August, Dog Days Of August, First Game, Friday Evening, Home Park, Jose Reyes, Lead, Mets Team, Mike Pelfrey, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Pitch, Pitches, Span, Straight Series, Struggle, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 26, 2010

One Bad Inning Dooms Santana

New York -Prior to the rubber game of their three game series in the Bronx Sunday against the Yankees, New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel was asked about his starting pitcher Johan Santana.  Is this the typical first half of the season for Santana, 5-3 and a 3.13 earned run average?

“That’s just his history,” commented Manuel “Just hoping it’s the same thing,” he said when asked about the usual strong second half that comes from his ace.   Santana still has about four more starts before the All-Star break next month after losing to the Yankees Sunday. The damage was giving up his third grand slam of the season to Mark Teixeira. That gave the Yankees their four runs and taking two of three from the Mets at Yankee Stadium.

“He’s a guy I’m never concerned with, said Manuel.  However the Santana fastball has seemed to have lost some speed. Teixeira off a 1-1 pitch hit a low fastball to left clocked at 89. It may have not cleared the wall at Citi Field.

The ball kept going to left and bounced off the wall into the stands, a typical Yankee Stadium home run. The home run by Teixeira, his 12th of the season gave the Yankees the 4-0 lead. It was the Yankees seventh grand slam hit this season, the seventh given up by the Mets pitching staff.

“In this ballpark it’s a home run,” said Manuel. In defense of Santana Manuel added, “In out ballpark, it’s a different story.” But it was still a home run and it goes in the books. An inning that started with a Derek Jeter single, an infield hit, and the bunt by Nick Swisher that Santana and first baseman Ike Davis could not handle.

Those plays happen sometimes to Santana, who has allowed four runs in his last three outings, “We have a routine play, one we were not able to make it,” he said about the play at first that was followed by the Teixeira slam.

“I stayed focused after the home run and was able to throw my fastball,” added Santana who has allowed 17 earned runs in 16.2 innings pitched in three career starts , and a 1-2 record in games at Yankee Stadium.

If the Mets were going to send a message, or provide some dominance to this inter league subway series, the one to cement that was Santana.  With the exception of that home run Santana was able to hold the Yankees to eight hits, striking out three.

“He’s historically been a second half pitcher,” said Manuel “I think he’s starting to gear up for that and, not that he’s not trying but that’s been his history. But I’ll take what he’s been giving us. A few bloop hits and then he gives up a fly ball that ends up going out here because of the ballpark, I still see a guy who competes,”

For now Manuel will count on his ace to close out the first half with a strong finish.  Maybe it is the rubber game of a series that also hindered Santana, because the Mets are now 2-8 in those situations this season.

“When all is said and done, however, if you would have told me that we’d go 7-2 on this nine game road trip, I’d take it,” said Manuel when asked about coming into the Yankee series with a 6-0 trip and then Mike Pelfrey and Santana losing the last two games.

Manuel said putting that into perspective, he was satisfied. But the Mets can never be satisfied unless Santana gives them a solid outing.

ADDED NOTE: After the game the Mets optioned 20-year old right hander Jenrry Mejia to Double A Binghampton to prepare him as a starter and recalled right hander Bobby Parnell from Triple A Buffalo. Mejia threw a scoreless sinning of relief Sunday and it is obvious now that the Mets want to groom him as a starter.

“We felt that his development and progression kind of leveled off,” said Manuel about the move. “But to get him to the next level he needs to pitch on a regular basis.”

Added general manager Omar Minaya, “The only way he’s going to get better is to throw more.  We just feel we have to stretch him out a little bit more.”  Minaya also added it was something planned and Mejia was enthusiastic about the opportunity to pitch more that would help with his development.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Ace, All Star, Bunt, Derek Jeter, Different Story, Dooms, Fastball, First Baseman, Game Series, Grand Slam, Johan Santana, Mark Teixeira, New York Mets, Nick Swisher, Pitch, Play One, Rubber Game, Starting Pitcher, Top Story, Yankee Stadium, Yankees New York

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 21, 2010