After years of a rumors, WFAN, the leading sports radio station in the country, has left the Kaufman Astoria Studios for a new home in SoHo. The “FAN” was moved by its corporate owner, CBS, to Manhattan in order to consolidate operations, as it will share space with four other CBS-owned radio stations.
I visited the WFAN studios a few years ago and I can understand the decision of CBS Radio brass to find greener pastures. The station was located in the basement, where there were no windows, offices were cramped and the carpeting was dingy. On a side note, WFAN personality Joe Benigno greeted me on the air that day by booming into his mike, “To paraphrase Sports Illustrated, here’s a sign that the apocalypse is near: Lloyd Carroll from the Queens Chronicle is in the studio!”
When asked about leaving the FAN’s home for the last 22 years, Benigno echoed the thoughts of a lot of Mets fans when Shea Stadium was torn down. “It was a dump, but it was my dump,” he said wistfully.
It will be strange not hearing that Astoria call-in phone number, (718) 937-6666 being announced to listeners by on-air hosts every five minutes. It has been replaced by a similar-sounding toll-free phone line, (877) 337-6666.
While there will be plenty of time for Mets management to tinker with the team to put out a far better product on the field in 2010, the early moves were certainly not heartening. The team fired two coaches, first base coach Luis Alicea and bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. Although he will no longer be the team’s third base coach in light of the number of Mets thrown out at home plate trying to score, Razor Shines will be on Manager Jerry Manuel’s staff in 2010. Ditto for Howard Johnson, who will still be the hitting coach, despite the team’s collective power failure and its inability to move runners along the basepaths.
Even more egregious is the decision to keep both pitching coach Dan Warthen and the entire training and medical staff. While it may be unfair to hold Warthen culpable for the rash of injuries that beset the entire starting pitching staff other than Mike Pelfrey, there’s no question that his predecessor, Rick Peterson, for all his flaws, knew how to keep his hurlers off the disabled list. Pelfrey, the one pitcher who remained healthy, pitched quite poorly.
In light of the inordinate number of injuries to Mets players, something which became a national joke, giving trainers Ray Ramirez and Mike Herbst the pink slip seemed like a no-brainer. Fear not, they’ll be back at Citi Field next year as well.
Of all the injuries that beset the Mets, the one that most affected their fortunes in 2009 was the loss of shortstop Jose Reyes. The Mets’ medical staff could not diagnose his leg problems until he tore up his hamstring last month practicing running the bases in hope of making a late-season appearance. Reyes is now scheduled to have surgery to clear out scar tissue around his tendon. The Mets claim that he will be in perfect health when the team returns to Port St. Lucie, Florida in late February. They had better be right.