Jason Bay comes from the Kootenays, a rugged, relatively isolated region of British Columbia where many locals still cannot stomach the intrusion of a Wal-Mart. The small, single-runway airport in Bay’s hometown of Trail (pop. 7,237) is completely staffed by town volunteers.
On a rainy, non-ski season afternoon, your recreation options can become limited to shooting virtual deer in a video game at a pub. That’s where two members of Community Futures — an organization dedicated to changing the area’s image — took this reporter on such a day not too long ago.
“It’s like living in 1965,” Kootenays real estate developer Cary Fisher told me.
Playing left field for the Mets is anything but like 1965. It might seem that way, though, after the much more intense Red Sox media cauldron in Boston. Fred Wilpon’s bunch is light years away from being the story in New York, the way the Sox are always the story in Boston.
Misplaying balls in Citi Field may be a problem for Bay, Gotham pressure will not.
Instead, it’s the Mets who have placed all the pressure on themselves. If leaking the Bay pursuit to WFAN dictator Mike Francesa was a public relations ploy, it’s completely blown up in Wilpon’s face.
Predictably relishing his role as Mets’ chosen soothsayer, Francesa promised Mets fans on his NBC they will have “a few new players under the tree” by Christmas. Francesa will cash checks Wilpon may have never intended to write.
Now, with the Red Sox signing John Lackey to a five-year deal and the Phillies set to acquire Roy Halladay (even if they’re giving up an arguably better pitcher in Cliff Lee), Wilpon’s corner shrinks even further.
If the Mets do not meet their own bluff and sign Bay, Citi Field will look like the Kootenays by May. Minus the Wal-Mart.
And you can bet the small-town Canadian boy and his agent know it.
– Chris Baldwin covers the sports media for Metro.
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