Saturday, July 05, 2008


I like it when a ballplayer gets good and fired up. I've mentioned a number of times that's something I think this Mets team could use - whether it's a brawl or just someone getting the team to act like they care.

It's not just the Mets - it's all around baseball. Last night, the Marlins lost to the Rockies 18-17. I saw a bit of the seventh inning, when the Marlins led 17-12. Logan Kensing was brought in with two men on, and I think no one out. He had nothing. Absolutely nothing. He walked the first batter he faced, loading the bases for Matt Holliday. Then he grooved one and Holliday hit it out. And then he proceeded to give up another base hit. He just kept grooving it in there. How about going high and tight on someone? No one ever does that anymore.

So I think there needs to be more emotion. Somewhere between Willie Randolph, whose greatest show of emotion was a glare from the dugout, and the likes of Joba Chamberlain and Jonathan Papelbon, who overdo it a little bit. A happy medium would be nice.

In the past week or so, though, there have been four instances of the type of emotion you would like to see out of a ballplayer, but in the wrong scenarios and for the wrong reasons. Let me break them down for you:

Shawn Chacon - Chacon was released by the Astros after allegedly throwing his general manager to the ground and then almost beating him up. This all apparently happened because Chacon was being summoned into the manager's office...although some reports indicate that while Chacon wasn't in the right, GM Ed Wade didn't necessarily handle himself in the most professional manner. (Speaking of unprofessional - the MLB Players' Union filed a grievance over this....what a joke.)

Regardless, there's no excuse for assaulting your boss. I don't care how unhappy you are with your own performance, or how the club is handling your situation - this is not the place for this kind of behavior.

Manny Ramirez - Manny was "Being Manny" (one of the worst aphorisms [am I using 'aphorism' correctly?] since 'it is what it is') last week, shoving the Red Sox's traveling secretary in a dispute over Ramirez's ticket allotment while the team was in Houston. First of all, is there something in the water in Houston? Secondly, it's like this never happened - there has been a murmur about it, but hardly an uproar. Thirdly, this is the second internal incident of its kind involving Ramirez...but no one seems to be putting two and two together here. Remember in the game where the Sox and Rays fought, there was a dugout incident between Manny and Kevin Youkilis? All reports after that indicated that Youkilis was the one who was at fault, because he threw equipment around or something, and Ramirez asked him to stop. Well, Youkilis isn't the one going around shoving 65-year-olds.

Joe Girardi - Well, at least with this one we're getting closer to some on-the-field action. After exploding for 18 runs on Wednesday, the Yankees were shut out by the Red Sox on Thursday. And Girardi was mad. He was short-tempered with the press, but he wasn't too much of a jerk. He got really mad when one reporter (Joel - I'm not sure who that was) kept asking the same question, trying to find out what Girardi told his team in a players-only meeting, but was pretty responsive to the rest of the questions. Basically, Girardi said, he was mad about losing - no matter who the opponent is.

Jose Reyes - Finally, Jose Reyes and broadcaster Keith Hernandez had a heated argument on the team plane traveling to St. Louis last week. (Let me just say that I first heard about this from my mom - which meant I had to go and check to make sure it really happened. Sometimes she mishears things on the news. And the real story here is that she got this story 94% correct.) (Also parenthetically, the Southern Bureau had a tongue-in-cheek response to this story that's worth reading.)

Apparently, Reyes was upset about what he heard Hernandez had said about him on the air. I didn't see this play, but last week after a throwing error against the Yankees, Reyes threw his glove to the ground. Hernandez said, "Well, he's got to get over that. Enough babying going on now. He's a grown man. He's been around a long enough time. Take off the kid gloves." (That quote is from Reyes's defense is that when you make an error, you're supposed to be upset about it.

OK, fine. But some people interpreted the throwing of the glove as a shot at Carlos Delgado, who I've read could have caught the ball (again, I didn't see it - I was at NASCAR). It wouldn't surprise me if Reyes was showing up Delgado, because Delgado always....and I mean always...shows up Reyes. Dating back to 2006 - if Delgado had to step off the bag for a throw, he would stare down Reyes. I guess they had a good relationship about it - but it was really ridiculous. Anyway, I wouldn't be shocked if Reyes was showing up Delgado.

The bottom line here is that Reyes should be fired up - but not because Keith Hernandez is calling him out. He should be fired up that his team is losing.

There's one thing that all four of these situations have in common. They're not motivated by the right reasons. They're all motivated by selfish reasons, which is a commentary on the people who play the game today. I think the Chacon and Ramirez situations speak for themselves. Though the Girardi situation is very close to being appropriate, the fact that it comes just after he heard from his outspoken boss and comes during the most important series he'll probably face all season (in fourth place, with the Red Sox in town) makes me second-guess the timing and the real reason for his anger.

And the Reyes thing isn't about baseball. It's about his image.

Jose Reyes is the most important player to the Mets. The stats speak for themselves (I'll probably get into it more around the All Star break). But his attitude leaves a lot to be desired. And until he acts like someone who wants to win, Keith Hernandez, a winner, has every right to criticize the way Reyes acts on the field.

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