Only the Mets
Only the Mets could have the most powerful display of team unity in MLB this week be overshadowed by a series of blunders.
The day after utilityman Dominic Smith was brought to tears while addressing police brutality in a press conference, the Mets and Marlins stood on the field together for a 42-second moment of silence and then walked off, leaving a Black Lives Matter shirt over home plate.
It was a moving display, but it was surreal to watch because an hour and a half earlier a video had been posted on Twitter of Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen saying MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wanted the clubs to walk off the field at the game’s originally scheduled start time and then come back an hour later to play.
Van Wagenen later released a statement clarifying that it was Mets owner Jeff Wilpon’s idea to reconvene an hour after the protest. But that wasn’t the only newsworthy sound bite from the clip. Even if Van Wagenen was mistaken about whose idea the hour-long protest was, his remark that Manfred “at a leadership level, he doesn’t get it” clearly wasn’t inspired by just the protest idea.
The question on everyone’s mind was how this video managed to get out. Shortly after it was posted, I asked a couple of friends who work in TV if they had any ideas. They said the Zoom meetings that are used to stream these press conferences are really easy to get into, so someone could have shared the info with a friend. The real explanation is even stupider.
The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand spoke with the guy who shared the video, a 20-year-old Mets fan and University of Maryland journalism student named Nick Albicocco. According to Albicocco, finding the incriminating footage didn’t require any borrowed Zoom credentials or hacking. The video was just posted on the Mets’ website.
“I found the video on Mets.com when I went to look for an update on whether they would play tonight,” Albicocco, told the Post. “It was sitting on their homepage for who knows how long. When I heard [Van Wagenen’s comments], I couldn’t believe it.”
(That wasn’t the only digital media foul-up from the Mets on the night, either. Later, the team’s official Twitter account for minor league updates, @MetsFarmReport, tweeted, “FIRE MANFRED.”)
Van Wagenen’s comment about Manfred’s leadership isn’t particularly shocking, given how public opinion of the commissioner has tanked over the past several months. He surely isn’t the only high-ranking MLB employee to bash Manfred in (what he thought were) private conversations.
That’s what makes Mets ownership’s response to the video so puzzling. Rather than standing by their own employee, owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon each issued statements calling Van Wagenen’s comments “disrespectful” and “inexcusable.”
The owners could have simply let Van Wagenen’s apology be the team’s final comment on the matter. There’s no need to throw your own employee under the bus and stand up for the commissioner who everyone hates. Unless, of course, you’re a team who always manages to get everything wrong. At least the players made the right move earlier in the night.
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