From the mailbag

Has the luster/nostalgia of being a fan worn off since you are now an employee of the team you root for? Is it work for you? I ask this because, as a member of tv production, I would never want something I do for pleasure to feel like work. I would love to hear your take on it.

– Alex, via email.

Not really, no.

A couple of things: First off, I’m not a Mets employee. It seems like the general perception is that SNY and the Mets are two arms of the same entity, but in my day-to-day dealings it’s not like that at all. I have a season credential to cover the team, like many members of the media do, and when I need to set up something specific I go through the media-relations department, as someone from any other media outlet would.

That said, SNY’s ratings and (more pertinent to me) the traffic on these sites depend in many ways on the Mets’ performance. I am benefited professionally by the Mets playing well, which perhaps alters — but certainly does not diminish — the way I root for the team.

I think it’s this part of the job — the writing, which is hardly my primary responsibility — that most impacts the way I follow the team. I suspect that if I just showed up to the office and helped manage and edit the content on SNY.tv without ever publicly expressing my opinions about the club, I’d remain now pretty much the same fan I was in 2005, before I got my first job in media. I would know a bit more about the sausage-factory stuff that goes into a game broadcast, but not really root for the team any differently than I did before I worked here.

In mid-June of 2008, during the height of the great Internet Val Pascucci Campaign, Robinson Cancel smacked a pinch-hit two-run single up the middle that helped the Mets beat the Rangers. And it immediately pissed me off. I thought, wrote and maintain that Cancel had no business getting pinch-hit opportunities or even being on a third catcher on the Major League roster when the team had Pascucci crushing the ball in Triple-A. So when he got the hit, instead of being thrilled by it as a Mets fan, I was annoyed because it worked against my point.

That led to quite a bit of soul-searching, and the realization that I needed to emotionally divest myself from my writing while watching the games. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but I believe doing it successfully enhances both my enjoyment of the games and the writing itself.

I really, really, really like baseball. When I go on vacation from my job covering baseball, I usually go watch baseball somewhere. Baseball f@#$ing rules. And there’s just nothing I’m going to come across in my professional life that makes me feel otherwise.

Before I worked in this industry, I typically watched every game but ignored a lot of the nonsense surrounding it. I tuned in to the rumor-mill stuff every offseason and near the trade deadline, but I generally avoided most newspaper columns, blogs and WFAN. Not by any hard and fast rule, I just tended to seek entertainment elsewhere.

If I was working somewhere else and I saw that the Mets pulled Jose Reyes after one bunt base hit on the last game of the season, I’d probably shrug a little, say something snarky about bunting, and move on. Now I know that when something like that happens, I’m probably going to feel pressured to address it in some more substantive way. And sometimes that kind of sucks. But it’s still way, way, way better than not having a job writing about baseball.

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