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WFAN's Francessa Under Fire From Mets

There are perils and reasons for plaudits when media pundits open up and admit their inner fandom. For most of his career with New York's WFAN, arguably the most successful regional sports radio station in the country, Mike Francessa has predominantly received the latter. He's a Long Island-born Yankees fan who lives and breathes with his team, and while he's not too shy to rip the pinstripes when their front office does something really stupid, he tends to heap more praise than scorn.

The Mets, on the other hand, have always been fair game for Francessa's cutting jibes, despite the fact that WFAN is actually the radio home of the Mets, not the Yankees (whose games are called on WCBS). Francessa has been particularly critical of the Mets after the team's two recent late-season collapses, barbs that seem to have hurt some Mets stars enough to keep them from cooperating with Francessa's afternoon radio show ... even though it's by far the biggest show on the network.

According to a post at Matthew Cerrone's MetsBlog, Wright and Francessa had to have a 45 minute conversation to try and bridge hurt feelings after Wright repeatedly ignored interview requests while Francessa was broadcasting from the Mets' spring training home in Port St. Lucie earlier this winter. And from the look and sound of recent Francessa shows, it doesn't seem like much has changed. Wright still isn't coming on for interviews, and Francessa is still willing to heap on blame.

Francessa addressed the budding feud on his Sunday night New York NBC sports show "Mike'd Up", but refused to acknowledge whether a true reconciliation was reached. He did acknowledge, however, that the disagreement became public last week, after Wright and former Nationals outfielder Ryan Church refused to go on his show. Needless to say, Francessa's response was priceless:

"I think he's being very immature because he's had a straight ascendancy and he doesn't want any criticism . . . He needs to grow up."

That sure doesn't sound like a way to get athletes upset with your coverage to come on your show anytime soon, does it? It also raises questions about whether Francessa's legendary oversized ego can work when he's functioning as a lone host on his show. For years, Francessa's Yankees fandom was checked by outright Yankees scorn from his co-host, Chris "Mad Dog" Russo. Now that Russo has moved on to his own show on Sirius satellite radio, Francessa is left to fight his own battles, and he seems to have significantly less diplomatic intuition than Russo did (ironic considering the fact that Russo is nicknamed "Mad Dog", don't you think).

Our question to you is this: Who's at fault here? Is Francessa responsible for being too heavy handed with his criticism, particularly in contrast to his treatment of the Yankees? Or are Wright and his Mets teammates being too thin-skinned? Do Mets stars have a responsibility to go on the lead radio show of their team's network? And what would people feel if that happened here with Nats players and Sportstalk980?

By Cameron Smith  |  March 2, 2009; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  Mets , Yankees  
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Comments

This is a pretty good question. I tend to dislike sports talk radio, so my inclination is to side with the players here. You've got a guy, who is on his knees in front of the other local team while broadcasting on the Mets flagship and who was probably too unathletic to ever play ball himself, slamming your team. I feel like it is the players' prerogative to refuse to talk to the guy.

I know it isn't an exact parallel, but I think to get your answer to the second question (What would we do if this happened in this market?), you should go check out Redskins Insider. LaCanfora doesn't even wax poetic about his beloved (so some are quick to surmise) Ravens, but he is (according to some over there) overly critical of all moves the 'Skins make. I don't know that Nats fans would be as up-in-arms about it as 'Skins fans, though.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | March 2, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The Mets are getting mad that a reporter is calling them out for tanking in the last two seasons? It sounds like he's just pointing out the obvious. They have choked harder than any team I've seen in recent years, finding a way to tear defeat out of the jaws of victory.

The best way for the Mets players to retaliate is to go on his show and confront him. He's already on their Network, there's nothing they can do about it and he's not going away. You might as well confront him head to head on air and let loose.

What they REALLY need to do is quit whining, suck it up and get to the playoffs.

Posted by: adampschroeder | March 2, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Oh, oh I know the answer to this one!!! It's a trick question! Sportstalk980 pays no attention whatsoever to the Nats, so this never COULD happen!

However, if they did pay attention to the Nats, and the same situation arose, then I would be fine with the players avoiding certain radio personalities. The radio guy needs to express his opinion, and the show is better for it. However, if he is going to be persistently harsh, he should expect the cold shoulder.

That being said, Wright has had a straight ascendancy, with unearned Gold Gloves. Although he has the right, he is being a bit of a baby.

Positively Half St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 2, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Kevin. On the rare chance the Nats are discussed on the "Sports Reporters" its usually negative or they are ignorant of facts concerning major league baseball in general.

Posted by: sjm3091 | March 2, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

You have to understand that this guy harps on every little error or missed opportunity and repeats it over and over like a fishwife nagging and nagging and nagging. One missed RBI opportunity, you hear about it all season and then off season. If he were your wife, you'd leave home. Most of what he talks about is flat out wrong when it comes to baseball. The only course of action a fan has is to remove WFAN from the presets on his radio, which I have done. I will not return until this idiot is gone. I invite all Mets fans to follow.

Posted by: Fudbutter | March 2, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Mike Francessa ,,, is unbiased in his reporting... a life long Yankee fan...unbiased right.. Maybe he should be reporting more on the ongoings of the current pride of the Yankees (AROD) and the whimpering coming from Jeter (Let's just play baseball... gime me a break) than worrying that David stood him up.

Posted by: geobre4 | March 3, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

It's one thing to be critical of a player's on-field performance... opinions very so there's plenty of latitude afforded a blowhard like Francessa. But when he starts attacking the character and integrity of players -- as Francessa has of Church -- then I think the players are justified in making a stand. It's hard for Francessa to justify his presence in FL, much less his job, if these guys won't talk to him. I suspect the players hope the impact on the station's ratings will prompt Francessa to realize it's a two-way street... The truth is David Wright is one of the real stand-up guys in baseball. The guy hangs around the locker room after every game and takes every question, even when he's come up short. What limited credibility Francessa has is diminished further when he attacks a genuine pro like Wright. And that might just be the real motivation... Wright takes the heat off Church while turning it up on Francessa. Another reason to love D. Wright!

Posted by: outsider6 | March 3, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Mike Francessa is a Yankees fan (also an IDIOT) and don't belong on the WFAN - Mets station...

Go home Yankee!!!!!

Posted by: turk531 | March 3, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I am a former employee of WFAN and saw first hand how Francesa showed no impartiality when it came to his beloved Yankees and the "dreaded" Mets. He is reaping what he has sown. David Wright was one of the most media friendly athletes we worked with at the radio station. At some point though, enough is enough. Francesa has to know when it's proper to be a journalist as opposed to a fan.

Posted by: nycjct | March 3, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Adam is as well-informed as Francessa.

David Wright during the Mets' disastrous 9/07: .352/.432/.602; during September '08: .340/.416/.577. This is not, to use Adam's cliché, "choking."

Francessa is a fossil, whose Peter Principle drive-time status is fading with the loss of sidekick Russo.

Posted by: JohnManifold | March 4, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

It would do wonders for the author's credibility if he were to correctly spell "Francesa."

Posted by: TishTash | March 4, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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