About 10 days ago someone on twitter tweeted how the Wilpons were broke according to a source and that they would not be able to sign Dickey & Wright. Because he described himself as a sports analyst for the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo!, and Rotowire his tweet was given more credence and he soon found himself retracting his tweet, apologizing to the Mets and changing his Twitter description saying in effect that he never thought his tweets would be taken and held to the same standard as in a media report. It got me to thinking how information by fans is received today compared to back when I 1st started following the Mets during the mid 80′s.
Back in the mid 80′s (and by mid I am referring to 84 thru 86) the only way at least for me to get sports news was on your local tv news & newspapers. My part of Jersey was not wired for cable so whatever version of ESPN that existed we did not have. There was no Direct TV. All I knew was that the Mets were on Channel 9 WOR and the Yankees were on channel 11 WPIX. I’d watch the game telecast and any news they felt worthy to share I would get it during the game. If I wanted to see another team play my option was driving out to that city or watching what amounted to the MLB game of the week which came I believe after the weekly showing of “This Week In Baseball”.
Today we have more 24 hr sports channels than we can even watch SNY, MSG, MLB Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and on and on. You can watch every MLB game played and even watch them on your time with the invention of the DVR. It helps make today’s baseball fan just that much more informed to what a player or a team is doing around MLB.
Then there is radio. Back then the idea of a 24 hr sports talk station was unimaginable. That is till 1987 when WFAN was the 1st to do so. Now you have sports talk radio stations all over the country. We have 2 in the Tri State with WFAN and ESPN Radio and recently ESPN launched a Latin sports talk radio station. All this is just on the traditional AM & FM frequencies because now we have coast to coast satellite radio where your station is always within reach no matter where you are in the country where I can’t begin to name the amount of sports talk shows that exist on that frequency.
You want to talk about last night’s game or get the pulse of how others throughout the Tri-State feel about whatever said topic happens to be you now was just a phone call away from doing so 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Back then if you wanted to know how an out of town game was doing and you couldn’t get to a tv or radio in hopes that they mention it during it’s sports segment you was out of luck. Today because of the evolution of mobile communications and the internet you know almost as soon as it happens on the progress of a game without leaving your cubicle or while standing in line for coffee. Breaking News never traveled faster so fast it even sometimes gets ahead of itself.
Because of the internet we also have social media applications which allows a more direct connection to people or organizations in sports like never before. We are privy to information athletes share with us like never before due to things like blogs, Twitter & Facebook. Can you imagine back in 1986 if twitter were around the kind of tweets that would of been coming out of the Mets clubhouse after a big game by Doc or Darryl if they had twitter accounts? Today R.A. Dickey wins 20 games and can thank fans directly after the game. A minor league prospect can share in his own words what it is like to finally make it to the bigs on his blog. How awesome would it had been to read say Dave Magadan expand upon and write in his own words about his 3 for 4 debut in his 1st ever start the night the Mets clinched the division back in 86 on his blog?
For me though the one thing I depended on the most for my fix on the daily happenings of my Mets and baseball was without a doubt the newspaper specifically the New York Daily News. I would pour over the box scores of games from the prior evening at least those that finished before they went to print and read the opinions of writers like Mike Lupica or Vic Ziegel.
The Daily News when I 1st started to read it had no color photos but shades of gray but they were great photos. Combined with some great articles as well I found myself collecting clippings of them.
The earliest and one of my favorite article clippings was of the 1988 Opening Day game at Montreal where Straw hit that moonshot as the Mets hit 6 homers that day (2 by Straw) and went on to win by a final score of 10 to 6.
The Daily News back pages were like key-point markings in time of events both good and bad that happened in sports. For example like the back page the day after Davey Johnson was let go by the Mets.
While today we have instant up the minute access of players statistics back then you would have to wait for the Sunday paper to pour over stats page and see how players were doing throughout the country and unlike now where if you want to know how a player is doing this month vs say lefties back then you had to settle for the basics like at bats, runs, hits, hr, rb and avg. On the pitching side wins, losses, ERA, H, ER, BB, SO and Saves. There was just so much room a paper could fit.
There is just no way around that today’s fan has a wealth of information and more importantly access to it like never before. Today a fan not only knows the lineup hours before the game starts but he knows what the in season and career numbers are of every player in the lineup vs the opponent.
They even provided ticket order forms for those fans that just had to go watch their team. Check out the prices from this one for the 1990 season. Ten bucks for Loge or Mezzanine reserved seats? Sounds like a bargain I wonder what would happen if I mailed it in for 2 tickets?
The NY Daily News though had one other thing that no other paper had in the area. They had legendary sports cartoonist Bill Gallo. Gallo’s drawings for me are hard to put into words. He was like a puppeteer at times that used no strings but rather ink to take characters like Yuchie and Basement Bertha to not so much tell a story but often to just share a thought on whatever sports story was going around at that time. Sadly he passed away on May 10, 2011 at the young age of 88 but his work will live on forever.
His portrayal of despite the greed in baseball that baseball will always be bigger like in this illustration he titled “After all is said and done” is one of the reasons his work was great. (Note: He often would tell Dads to have a catch with their kids)
Don’t let it ever be said that Gallo was soft on the Mets either. He could hit them just as hard and even harder in a drawing than any NY Beat writer could. The best one I saw and kick myself to this day for losing was one of I believe Yuchie with a stick leaning over a beat up tired no energy fly ridden horse that is supposed to represent the Mets and their season with someone I don’t recall if it was Bertha or not telling Yuchie it’s no use beating a dead horse.This one though titled “Street Smart” showed how tough he could be as well.
Lastly it was not often when Gallo did a full page illustration but while fans remember the recent injury riddled Mets team of 2009 here is how Gallo depicted the injury riddled Mets team of 1992. I can only wonder if the 92 team was depicted as Frankenstein what the 2009 team would be depicted as?
As you can tell by now that when it came to the NY Daily News I was an avid fan. I can’t tell you the pages and pages of clippings and special pullout editions I have from throughout the years many simply just snapshots of what turned out to be an uneventful season but they were about the Mets so as a fan it had significance. It was the best source at the time for me in following the Mets and more importantly remembering them.
In 1990 a newspaper that was meant to be an all sports paper printed 7 days a week launched. It was called “The National Sports Daily”. It was something that had never been done before and on Opening Day sure enough I bought that paper and held on to the the front page. It didn’t make it past it’s 2nd year I believe but maybe it was an idea that came on too late because of everything I talked about having basically made the printed newspaper just about obsolete. Which takes us to where we are today. A great time to be a fan in sports with access and information as far as a smartphone away. Kids today have no idea how good they have it but those from my generation and before we know. I for one while I remember the past appreciate all the advances we have made. I mean this post alone is something I could not have even thought of say 30 years ago. Today people I will never even meet will read this and quite possibly pass this forward via a tweet or posting it on their Facebook page or simply emailing the hyperlink to share with others and so on and so on.
To use a Mets phrase it’s Amazin.
HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY EVERYONE.