IN NYC YOU CAN GET GREAT PASTRAMI,BUT GREAT SPORTS TALK RADIO? I’M AFRAID NOT

It will be tough to read any Mets news this week as NYC has turned its sports eye to this Sunday’s Super Bowl (with a squint at Madison Square Garden as Knicks fans await the firing of coach Mike D’Antoni and Mike Woodson taking over for the season) and the over saturation of information that will come out of Indianapolis all week. One of the more interesting aspects of this fountain of information is the two sports radio station in town going head to head on Radio Row.

David Hinckley has a column in today’s NY Daily News on how both station will be on Radio Row fighting for guests and for the ears of the New York sports fan.  What makes it even more interesting is FAN is the flagship station for the NY Giants games and WEPN carries NY Jets games. Both station have players under contract for weekly spots with Anonte Rolle , a provocative weekly guest of Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts and Eli Manning who calls in to Michael Kay show each week.

WEPN has never made a dent in the ratings and as the Great Sports Pope, Mike Francesa likes to say, “Dey cum ta wawr wit pea shootas” .WEPN’s biggest problem is they can’t decide if they want to be national sports radio broadcasting in NYC or a hybrid National/Local station. To be honest here, I’ve kind of weaned my way off WFAN. I’ll listen to the station at work but when I’m in the car I’ll listen to Sirius/XM radio, mostly MLB Radio.   

As much as I would love to listen to someone other than Francesa, when I tune into the Michael Kay Show it’s the sports talk equivalent to fingers nails on a chalk board.  What make it worse is I really like Don LaGreca and I’ve always felt he was being wasted as a second banana on the Kay show.

When you look at the WEPN line up, it’s no wonder it gets miniscule ratings.  Even though Mike and Mike is an ESPN infomercial, I kind of enjoy listening to them but again they are a National show which makes it more puzzling why they follow M & M with the totally unlistenable Colin Cowherd, again another National show.  At 12 noon the station puts on its best effort of the day in airing Ryan Ruocco and Robin Lundburg. Ruocco and Lundburg are young and come with a fresher, hipper way of doing sports talk that is quite refreshing, the problem is they only get two hours of air time as at 2pm WEPN turns into old foggey radio with the Mike Lupica Show. Lupica has not been relevant on the New York sport scene in about 10 years when he was at least watching sporting events on television (stories were all around that Lupey never attended games he wrote about it seems he’s beneath siting in a press box) what line of thinking is going through WEPN program director Dave Roberts head that he feels an hour of Lupey is better radio than an extra hour of Ruocco and Lundberg?

Sure it’s a tough task to overtake WFAN in the ratings as they are the founding fathers of sports talk radio not just in NYC but the country but it can be done if you go out a get younger hosts who are social media savvy who can talk about multiple subjects instead of beating listeners to death with Rex Ryan coaching critiques and 1960’s Yankees retrospectives. WEPN is missing a great opportunity to reach hockey fans by not giving LaGreca a weekend hockey show especially with the station airing NY Rangers games. Same for doing an NBA show. I know Stephen (Screamin’) A. Smith can polarized listeners but he is in tune with the NBA and by paring him up with the underutilized and underrated Larry Hardesty I’m sure they would move the rating needle north.

When you think about it here we live in a city that is sports crazy with multiple teams in four major sports but we don’t have a decent sports talk radio station to listen to. Sad, don’t you think?

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OKAY BACK TO WORK!

For most people the holiday season is over but for baseball fans we are anticipating our holiday season, the day pitchers and catchers start stretching out hammys and arms in what is really (no offense to those who like to use rodents as weather prognosticators) the first sign that daylight will be longer and temperatures higher, spring training.  As Mets fans we are entering a new era in the history of the franchise with Team Alderson running the Baseball Ops and I don’t know about you but I’m still trying to figure out the direction in which we’re headed.

Alderson has a lot of Clint Eastwood movie role qualities, he seems to never get rattled or sweat. In fact I bet if Alderson were advising Mayor MoneyBags during the worst snow removal operation, we would not have had the disaster, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the late 1970’s when John Lindsay forgot that Queens was not part of Nassau County. The problem we have here though, the Mets fan base is the exact opposite of the front office.

The NY Jets fan base has bought in to Rex Ryan’ bravado and bluster. Knicks fans are starting to boast about having a top 10 NBA team. NY Rangers fans are looking with admiration of their team as it has become a real blue collar bunch that works it’s ass off. Even NY Giants fans are still believers in their head coach (some, not all I know. Even though I’m not a big Coughlin fan I agree with John Mara bringing him back next season. I bet he gets a one year extension and then retires)   I just wonder if Mets fans will ever take on the persona of Sandy Alderson ?

Most of us Mets fans are feeling very antsy about the pitching staff, there are two starting spots open along with at least three spots in the bullpen, and just a few shekel’s available in the Skill Sets budget to fill the spots.  There are also six bench spots that have to be filled as well and all I keep thinking is “How is Sandy going to do this”? Not only how but how and make this team competitive?

Adam Rubin did a whole roster breakdown and of the starting eight, only second base is an open competition. The outfield is set with Bay, Beltran, Pagan so the only question here is who will play centerfield and who will be in right? Talking to Carlos Beltran, he feels fine and looks fit but the biggest obstacle I see is that big bulky brace he will have to wear for as long as he plays baseball.  I got the impression from Terry Collins, that Beltran will be given every chance to win the CF job but if he and his staff feels he’s not up to it, he’ll be the RF’er with Pagan taking over CF. What choice does Beltran have if this move is made? None.

The second base quagmire is most compelling. If Luis Castillo can’t beat out the competition he’ll be given his release. The feeling I get is Alderson hopes he craps out so he can release him. Castillo fits on this team about as well as a eunuch in whorehouse.  I’m very interested in seeing Brad Emaus play as I think he’s the guy the front office wants to win the second base job. Dan Murphy will get reps at second as well but he looks to be more a utility guy and lefty bat off the bench. Same with Nick Evans as his righty counterpart who can spell both David Wright and Ike Davis and maybe play a corner spot in the outfield as well.

That still leaves about four spots to fill the bench. One player who won’t be a benchmark is Lucas Duda and that’s a good thing. Duda needs to play every day and that can only happen in Buffalo. It’s a win-win for the Mets, if Duda hits like last year, he’s prime trade bait or he is the first call up if the any of the three starting OF’ers go down injured.  How about signing Andruw Jones as a fourth outfielder? Maybe the longer he’s unemployed, the easier he could be to sign for an incentive laden contract.

The storyline that will be most prominent in 2011 will be what becomes of Jose Reyes beyond this season. I’d say it’s a given that no matter how well he plays, this is Carlos Beltran’ last season as a Met, in fact we could be talking months as Alderson will have to decide if it’s worth trading Beltran for prospects or taking the draft pick? With Reyes it’s a lot more difficult decision. What Jose Reyes will we see in 2011? If it’s the Reyes of the last two seasons, where injury and production limit his playing time, then no way you go long term, in fact if 2011 is a carbon copy of 2010, then Reyes will be an ex-Met but if he bounces back and has a 2008 type season, then Sandy Alderson will have a real tough decision to make. Let’s hope Reyes has a 2008 type season as that would mean not only seeing how Alderson handles a tough decision but I’m sure the Mets will have  better season than most fans think they’ll have.

The Francisco Rodriguez saga will be compelling as well. What happens if Rodriguez is closing in on the magic 55 games finished and the Mets are out of contention? Do the Mets hold him back and damn the consequences of a grievance? What if everything starts to fall into place and this team is still in post season hunt?  It’s the $17.5 mil dollar question.

I’m getting mighty itchy for some positive Mets news. This front office is keeping its plans very close to the vest and all the leaks in the organization seemed to have been plugged so we sit here waiting for a moves to be made so we can analyze and try to track how this team will go forward.  Please Sandy, throws us a bone!

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