Friday, July 04, 2008

Don't Give This Sucker No Statue ... Give Him Guts!

All right, break it up you two.

Remember when Clubber Lang crashed the statue dedication for Rocky Balboa in Rocky III, and he let loose Mickey's secret that he was setting Rocky up with set-ups and bums to protect him? And Rocky didn't want to believe Clubber, but it was true?

That's what this Reyes/Hernandez tiff reminds me of.

When Hernandez (playing the role of Clubber) said on the air: "enough babying of Jose Reyes", he was right. When Jose Reyes (our Rocky Balboa) got pissed off, he was right too. So everybody's right and there's no need to take sides.

Look, Snoop Manuel came out and said that he wanted to Luis Castillo to be a more positive influence on Reyes. So some of the evidence of what Keith is saying is out there for us to see. And I'm willing to bet that Keith, as a broadcaster, sees other things behind the scenes with the team that we don't see ... it's that simple. And as a former player, he interprets things in a way that we have we have no chance of knowing. That's why he was hired, and that's why he's regarded as one of the best at what he does. Think about it: what do you think everyone has been talking about when Reyes slumped last season: "Oh, too bad Jose Valentin isn't around like last season", and other things to that effect. So, Keith basically spoke the truth ... just the same way he spoke the truth in '02 when he said that the team had quit. The team did quit! But Hernandez was made to apologize because Mike Piazza got all sensitive (it remains the one thing on Piazza's Met career I have an issue with). So Keith is absolutely right on this.

Besides, if Jose Reyes is indeed being babied, and I think there's enough evidence out there to prove he is to some extent, then you can't blame Hernandez, who lived through the Gregg Jefferies saga, for disagreeing with that tact. The Mets hired Keith to provide not only an ex-ballplayers' perspective, but his perspective. If people don't like that, then maybe we should get automatons to provide color commentary.

Jose Reyes? He's right too. Reyes should reject the notion of being treated like some sort of child who constantly needs a baby sitter or a mentor. He's 25 years old. And while 25 doesn't mean that you know everything (Look at me: I'm 37 and I know nothing), 25 with five seasons in baseball should mean that you have to be allowed to make your own mistakes and own up to them at some point. Reyes has generally done that. I don't mind Jose Reyes throwing tantrums. Reyes should be allowed to throw tantrums after plays like that, like most ballplayers have done at one time or another. I've thrown some doozies with a plastic bat and a metal chair, and again: note that I'm 37 years old. Here's the difference: I don't throw these tantrums in front of 57,000 like Reyes did against last Sunday ... I go to an office, shut the door, and have at it. When you don't wait until you go to the dugout or clubhouse to throw your tantrum, you give the New York media carte-blanche to make any assumptions they want ... and when you're a New York Metropolitan, the assumptions from the media are generally going to take the form of the worst one possible, like say the one about showing up Carlos Delgado.

Deserved? In some parts yes, because of what happened last year and so far this year. In some ways no, merely because even Mets deserve the benefit of the doubt until the facts come out, whether the team is in a winning streak or a losing streak. I don't subscribe to the Chris Russo school of "nothing you do is right unless you're winning ten in a row." (Can't Snoop Manuel be correct for going out and defending Carlos Beltran even though the Mets lost the game 11-0?) But that's the way it is in this city: When you're 10 games ahead, stories like this don't come out until years later as an anecdote to illustrate how intense Jose Reyes is. But when you're five games behind, stories like this make the front page that week and get talked about on ESPN round tables as fodder for the contrarians like Skip Bayless. It's just the way it works.

Oh by the way, playing the role of Mickey is Mets management, who are the ones that are taking great pains to make sure Reyes is comfortable. And you know as well as Keith does that babying and favoring fosters resentment. And that's the best reason not to baby a player: because resentment and division are exactly what the media hopes for to go and write the obituaries and win their Pulitzers.

I realize that by merely writing about this, I give the story more legs than it deserves (not that anyone actually reads this). But I truly believe that all parties are right on this and should continue to believe that they are. If anything, I would say that Jose needs to realize that Keith is merely doing his job, and would never be the announcer he is if he was worried about feelings or self censorship when it comes to team matters. And Keith probably needs to accept that in sports parlance, 22 years is a long time in baseball when you're talking about attitudes and mindsets of major league players. In other words: They don't make 'em like they used to. But I have a feeling that if Keith looks deep down that he'll realize that Jose Reyes, tantrums and all, is more like Keith Hernandez than we all think.


Anonymous said...

Well written. Bravo


Anonymous said...

Yes, but you had to have liked Piazza's response, calling Keith "a voice from the grave" and likening his criticism to "a fart in the wind".

I don't know. What was Keith like at 25? I'm sure he had his moments of immaturity at that age, just like the rest of us. And at least Reyes cares about the game. This is not a bad person, or a primadonna (like Jeffries, whom Keith HATED). He's an immature kid who means well.

That said, I understand Keith's job as a broadcaster, but he should watch it, especially when he starts to sound hypocritical.

Ed in Westchester said...

Keith never did anything wrong his whole career.

Except for the coke, and the backstabbing of Straw for MVP.

That Keith is all class.

Why is it that when Troy Tulowitski breaks his bat after being taken out of a game (cutting himself and landing on the DL in the process), he is "fiery". But Jose getting pissed at himself is a "baby"?

Why can Youkilis be all kinds of "intense" but Jose is "petulant".

I'm not bashing you 'Damus. Just the media. And some fans.

So many fans/media folk cry "they don't care". But then bitch when Jose shows some emotion.

It is very frustrating.