Well congratulations, New York media. You have your circus. I'm happy for you. Hell, now you don't have to spend hours upon hours trying to give us interesting storylines in a season where the Mets are going to get pummeled every night that Matt Harvey isn't pitching. Now you have this story that just won't die ... Jordany Valdespin.
The latest twist to the whole showboat/plunking story revolves around Terry Collins responding to a media question about fans thinking that he sent Valdespin up to the plate to be a bullseye on Saturday:
"I don’t answer to fans. They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level."
It didn't go over well. Fans went ballistic thinking they were dissed, and even some reporters compared the road Collins is taking to other roads paved out of town. Now I'm a fan. I've been a fan for more than 30 years. Trust me when I advise you to take a step back here: Nothing that Collins said was false or insulting. It sounded harsh. It came off as intentionally burning our fingers against the stove to teach us not to go near the stove. But Collins is absolutely right. We have no idea what is going on in that room. That's not an insult ... that's fact. This isn't Rey Ordonez calling Met fans "stupid". Collins is just telling the truth. There's a difference, so let's stop blurring the line.
Here's the bottom line, as I see it: This discussion about Jordany Valdespin has evolved from a discussion about Valdespin's exuberance, and into a discussion about whether he's a good teammate. It's silly to frown on exuberance. I'm always on the side of enjoying the game. I loved Jose Reyes. I love choreographed handshakes. Baseball is a fun game. JV1 wants to clap after a triple, let him. No problem with that. Showboating, like after the home run Friday night, kinda sorta crosses the line, but it's still not a reason for anybody to fly off the handle.
But one thing you absolutely have to be in sports, especially if you're just a regular player, is a good teammate. Being a bad teammate won't be tolerated unless you're Barry Bonds. Jordany Valdespin is a decent major league with some tools that might grow if he plays more and if he works at it. Nothing more. But on this roster of poop he's been elevated to being compared to Reyes. He's not. Nowhere close. And if he's a bad teammate, he's not going to get the benefit of the doubt with playing time, or respect. That's just the way it is.
Before Valdespin left the ballpark on Saturday, teammate Juan Lagares asked him for a ride home, according to a clubhouse source. Ever since Lagares arrived from the minor leagues on April 23, Valdespin has tried to force the outfielder to fetch him coffee and run other minor errands that rookies are often asked to perform for veterans, according to that same source (last year, Valdespin made enemies by demanding, unsuccessfully, that veterans buy him clothing). Because Valdespin has himself only been in the major leagues since 2012, Lagares has at times refused to comply with his demands. So on Saturday, Valdespin said no, he would not give Lagares a ride home. Fortunately, Ruben Tejada volunteered.
Assuming this is true, and assuming JV1 didn't have a good reason for refusing to drive Lagares home such as "you live in Jersey and my house is in Hartford" ... if this was your teammate, and he pulled this, you'd think he was quite the dick, no? How would you feel? Guy who hasn't been in the league much longer than Lagares and he's big leaguing him? And there are plenty of other whispers about him so you'd have to think that Lagares stranded on the side of the Grand Central somewhere isn't an isolated incident.
Should Valdespin play more? Sure. But if he's a bad teammate then he's going to have a problem in that regard. Right or wrong, that's the issue. It's a different situation because this team is terrible while the mid 80's teams were anything but, however: a significant reason that those 80's teams became fractured was because of the front office and ownership coddling Gregg Jefferies. The other 24 on the team were pissed off at Jefferies for acting like the big-time prospect that he was, and it broke apart the clubhouse and that was the beginning of the end. (It probably played a part in the Dykstra McDowell Samuel trade, and we saw how that went.) The JV1 thing is a unique situation, as all situations of this kind are unique in their own way. Because who cares if this current team gets broken apart, right? And this team also doesn't have the alpha personalities that the late 80's team did. But the Gregg Jefferies situation should remind us that the inmates can't run the asylum, whether he should be playing instead of Rick Ankiel or not. (And yes, he should.)
This seems like the situation that Steve Phillips had told us he feared with Alex Rodriguez, the whole 24-and-1 thing. Now putting aside the fact that Rodriguez likes to sun himself like a lizard in Central Park, cheat on his wife with strippers, and commission paintings of himself as a Minotaur, who would you tolerate a 24-and-1 situation for more: Alex Rodriguez in his prime or Jordany Valdespin?
Should Collins have come off as so frustrated? Probably not. But let's face it: He's got a sub-par roster and this is the first season that he hasn't been able to squeeze more juice out of them than everybody expected, and he's frustrated. I'm surprised this hasn't happened more often, to be quite honest with you. I'm sure he knew what he was getting into, and I'm sure he's had no delusions of grandeur with the limited talent on this roster. But I'm sure that the realization that this season is going to be over sooner rather than later is taking its toll on him. And I think that bothers him more than the fact that the season might cost him his job when its all said and done. And if this situation is bothering him, and most importantly the rest of the team so much that it is a distraction for all involved, then trade him. Get rid of him. If this distraction is media driven then that's another story. But Collins had it right: He's gotta worry about the people in that clubhouse. Not the fans, and not the media. He doesn't manage us, or them. And if the team is truly distracted, then JV1 has gotta go for the sake of everybody's sanity.
Except mine, because it is already gone. It left long ago watching this team play game after game after game that's over after the third inning, where Robert Carson is walking pitchers and giving up bombs to everybody else, and we have to listen to Gary and Keith have long conversations about the hierarchy of Keith's highlighters. And I don't have to know what's going on in the clubhouse to know what's going on between the lines. And between the lines, this team stinks. I know this because I completely saw Tuesday night's game coming ... losing to a guy making his major league debut whose numbers would have been closer to what I predicted had it not been for the Cardinals botching a rundown.
At least Harvey is pitching on Friday, what could possibly go wrong?
NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! THE SPORTS ILLUSTRATED JINX!!!!! NOW HE'S GOING TO BE SWALLOWED UP BY THE IVY NEVER TO BE HEARD FROM AGAIN AS HE'S GOING TO LIVE WITH ANDRE DAWSON IN FANTASY LAND!!! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US?????