|The media focused on A-Rod, whose face shall never grace this blog.|
As if being a major league baseball player isn't enough of a daily circus, they now have to abide A-Rod's presence in the locker room, the horde of journalists, and all the attendant booing with each of his at-bats. Of course no one could anticipate this happening, and it's not as if he's alone in admitting to using PEDs. But he makes almost $150,000 A GAME, so if he cheated to gain that ludicrous amount of money (with the help of the evil agent Scott Boras), then he doesn't deserve it, beyond the usual conversation of: how in god's name can any human be paid that much for doing so little?
I know, as a fan, I guess I'm part of the problem. I watch many games, and take odd delight in the nuances and quirks of the sport, the languorous pace, the well-managed tedium of GaryKeithRon (especially Keith's ad hockery), the occasional, fleeting moment of delight. But I have to wonder if hitting a few more home runs than the next five guys really merits earning, oh, a Bentley's-worth more per game. That is, if you're not a cheater. Right — Alex cheated! So how about all the money he was paid? Does he return it, like Lance has been asked to? The wins? The rings? All scratched out, like Armstrong's seven Tour de France wins?
Meanwhile, back in Queens...
The Mets struggle. It's part of who they are. But this season's already been much more fun than I expected, mostly due to the emergence of the team's young pitching aces, Matt Harvey (his debut with a nosebleed sums it up, plus his "Who is Matt Harvey" gig for Jimmy Fallon), Zack Wheeler (flashes of brilliance in an otherwise steep learning curve), and Jenrry Mejía (ditto). Myth has finally merged with reality to produce some real optimism, and not the quaint kind that comes with Pedro Feliciano returning to the pen after not pitching for two years.
Has he ever misspoken in public? Not that I can recall. Yes, he can reel off cliches, but he's never put himself in a position where he needs to defend any questionable behavior or situation. He seems very nice, and very boring, and that's fine, if it keeps him consistent in the ballpark. He signed a longterm contract that just about guarantees he'll retire as a Met, making that #5 jersey a great investment.
However, he's injured. It's not as scary as when he was hit with a pitch two years ago and had a concussion. His hamstring is tweaked, which is concerning as one of the larger muscles. Going on the DL was the nightmare scenario that no one wanted to think about, both offensively and defensively. He cannot be replaced. The upsides are that Wright will get a bit of a rest, and opportunity knocks for third-base candidates Murphy, Wilmer Flores, or whoever. Wright is still in the dugout, cheering, giving notes, being an all-around optmistic presence. The day after he was injured, while the rest of us dragged our chins on the ground, he was smiling, popping sunflower seeds, wacking guys on the shoulder. In fact, he looked a bit like a manager in that short-sleeved windbreaker. Hmm...
Mercifully, the Mets don't really have a player who's, how shall I say this, an A-Rod type. Jordany Valdespin, one of the dozen suspended for 50 games for using PEDs, was sent down to AAA a while back, and threw a tantrum in the locker room when he heard. You can't blame him, because by all reports, it's depressing and you're surrounded by guys who hate being there, just on the brink of the big show. But apparently Valdespin's maturity has always been an issue, plus he wasn't able to outperform these shortcomings. (As A-Rod attests, put up the numbers and your teammates will put up with you, if begrudgingly.) But nowhere near the jerkery of A-Rod.
This season's Mets' goats are led by Ike Davis, who is scorned but not disliked. You always feel like he's just an at-bat away from hitting .320. One thing: we haven't seen him go over the dugout rail for a catch, like he seemed to do every week last year. Daniel Murphy has become seasoned at second, looking by all rights a pro, and hitting pretty consistently. His self-loathing isn't apparent this year; I've even seen him crack a smile. (It looks weird.) Quintanilla is sort of a cipher at short, but he's getting the job done without much flair or controversy and let's face it, no one will erase the memory of José Reyes, ever. Byrd has become well-liked, and aside from his problems with the sun on Sunday, has done fine in right. Eric Young is on the brink of good, getting a timely hit (hello, walk-off!) and looking pretty fast around the bases until he gets caught off. Josh Satin's cooled down since Davis returned and pushed him off first, but he's still hitting .295. Looks like Flores was called up, so we'll see how he looks tonight.
Just relish the fact that the circus is in Chicago for now, but will be back in the Bronx in short order, and not in Queens.