7. You were involved in a high-profile incident with Omar Minaya. It was one of the first big media lurker moments as Deadspin and the like took off. Did that have an effect on your career? How difficult did it become to cover the Mets? Was there consideration to leave the beat? Do you have a relationship with Omar now?
People wrongly presume that Omar
and I have a bad relationship. Thatís the opposite of the truth. He actually called meómultiple timesówhen I announced I was leaving ESPN, until we finally connected. He was very complimentary. A couple of years ago, when he was working for the Padres, he actually gave me and a few other reporters his breakfast reservation at a fashionable San Diego spot so we didnít get shut out. (EDITORíS NOTE: Jared can vouch for thisóhe was there.)
That said, Iím still upset about that press conference to this day for multiple reasons. Journalism can be a cesspool sometimes, and I always felt I carried myself very ethically. So to be accused of something that was not even true really hurt. Even if the public generally was very supportive, if anyone thought lesser of me because of it, it stung because I really believe Iíve done things the right way throughout my career.
Even though I would gladly expunge the event if it were possible, it was probably good for my career. As we discussed, so much of being a successful journalist is branding. And I cannot dispute that the incident considerably increased my name recognition.
With respect to the incident itself, Iíve always felt wronged, even though Omar was apologetic from the moment it happened.
, who was fired by the Mets after my reporting brought some incidents to light, desperately wanted to become a GM. And when Tony struck out elsewhere, Omar was warned by folks that Tony was angling with ownership for his job with the Mets. Omar chose not to accept it at the time.
Anyway, Tony and I had an interesting relationship. He liked me, or at least respected my work ethic. And he very much envied how much I knew about the minor leaguers. I think I knew a lot more than him about some things because the players trusted me, especially some bad stuff I never wrote (like a guy around the Binghamton team whom I heard was peddling drugs). Tony admired the information I could get, and often told me, and this is a direct quote, ďYouíre on my list.Ē What he meant by that is that when he became a GM, I was on his list to hire because I could get info about minor leaguers.
He said it so many times, I started to think maybe itís a viable path for me down the road. In spring training annually, the Mets front office invited the beat writers to dinner for an off-the-record session. During it, I asked Tony and Jeff Wilpon
what it would take to pursue a career like that. That was the extent of it. I was invited to have a meeting back in New York after spring training to speak in general about a position like thatónothing specific to the Metsóbut I never pursued it. Months later, at the fateful press conference, Omar accused me of lobbying for a job. Iím sure Tony unloaded on me when he was told he was fired and concocted some fancy story about the whole thing. The Daily News, the day after the incident, ran a first-person thing from me about it. I never typed a word of that. I did dictate some things, but I believe what was printed was almost like a compromise with the Mets to get through it rather than a fully accurate portrayal of what occurred.
I have pretty good sources, and I was told Omar didnít even know what ďlobbyĒ meant when he said it at the press conference. He had to ask someone afterward. As I mentioned, though, I have no ill will toward Omar. Heís a very nice man. It was a regrettable moment all of us wished never happened.
I was concerned I wouldnít be able to cover the team, regardless of the truth. And Tony seemed particularly close with the Latin American players in the clubhouse. But when I finally returned after about a week, there seemed to be mostly euphoria in the clubhouse, with players and staff privately patting me on the back for helping get Tony ousted with my reporting. I was concerned the Puerto Rican players would particularly be upset with me. But Pedro Feliciano
probably said the nicest thing of anyone to me. And Alex Cora
, whose family was raised alongside Tonyís family, if my memory is correct, also was very kind.
I will say this: Iíll always be fond of David Wright
. The night of that incident, he called me to make sure I was OK.