The Mets Narratives: Apocalypse or Benny Hill

On Friday, Ken Rosenthal reported that Jose Reyes had met with feared uber-agent Scott Boras, presumably to discuss switching representation. This set in motion a series of events that seemed as if they were laboratory engineered just to anger me. They were also representative of how, far too often, the established media narrative about the Mets dictates how events are reported. Specifically, that anything involving the team is either The Worst Thing That Has Ever Happened or Needs "Yackety Sax" for a Soundtrack.

Rosenthal's inital piece was fairly light on details, beyond relating that Reyes had "met with agents in spring training." The rest of the article was largely speculative, surmising that a switch to Boras would all but doom any hope the Mets have for resigning him. There was nothing really objectionable about it, per se--Reyes talking to Boras is certainly news, and the speculative aspects of the article were fairly explicit.

At least the speculation was there if you were looking for it. Far too many people weren't, and the Mets' press corps, in particular, were eager to jump the gun. A cynical person might believe this was done in full consideration of the intended audience: Mets fans, who are uniquely drawn to bad news about their favorite team like moths to a flame. And I'm a fairly cynical person, so I'm just gonna come out and say it: The way this story was reported had little to do with the truth and everything with trying to get page hits from a masochistic fan base.

The Daily News, for instance, filed their story on the Boras-Reyes summit with a headline--"Mets' Jose Reyes ready to hire agent Scott Boras"--that suggested a switch was imminent, when Rosenthal's story said anything of the kind. The Post's piece had a less alarmist headline, but its content had a tone that suggested Boras and Reyes were now BFFs. There were also a number of writerly tweets on the subject, which ranged from Here we go again, to Well they'll never sign him now! Here's a typical example from Newsday writer Dave Lennon:

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What @jdez_10 alluded to was the fact that among Reyes' current agent team, one of them--Chris Leible--is godfather to Reyes' children. Virtually none of the initial reports mentioned this. One of the few exceptions was ESPN's Adam Rubin (the Star-Ledger as well), who, the day after the Rosenthal report broke, wrote in his Morning Briefing that he put little credibility in the idea that Reyes would switch agents, in large part because of this close relationship. Rubin also noted that Rosenthal's original report included a supposed meeting between Reyes and Boras that happened when the Mets were in Denver to play the Rockies, but that this detail had since vanished from the story, which shaved the evidence to razor thin proportions. When I read this, I wanted to feel some sense of relief. But I also wondered, if this were really true, why was Rubin the only person noting it?

Rosenthal's story broke late Friday night/early Saturday morning, too late for Reyes to be available for reporters' questions, presumably. But that didn't prevent Rubin from using what he knew about the shortstop's relationship with his agents and surmise that the Boras report probably meant nothing. He turned out to be correct, as Reyes nipped the story in the bud as quickly as possible and announced before Saturday's game that he had zero interest in changing representation.

I don't know everything that goes on in the Mets' clubhouse. In fact, I don't know a tiny fraction of what goes on in there. But I feel it's unlikely that Adam Rubin knows any more about Reyes' feelings toward his current agents than anyone else who covers the team. That no one else put two and two together the way he did suggests, at best, laziness, and at worst, willful ignorance.

Had anyone bothered to put much effort into thinking through the details of the Reyes-to-Boras report--not even making any calls or conducting interviews, just thinking about it--they would have come to the same conclusions Rubin did. But there was no interest in doing this. To the media, a story that does not bode well for the Mets, no matter how flimsy the story's basis, must be true. The question then becomes not to investigate the story, but to create nightmare scenarios and wonder just how apocalyptic and/or hilarious the result will be.

I'm not all that surprised by the bent of this coverage. I'm more insulted by the total lack of effort.

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