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?
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