It got to the point during the Mets' 11-2 loss to the Pirates on Saturday where I was cheering the rain delay programming. First, some World War I program. I think. Then, Unsealed Aliens … which was yanked off right when they got to the part about the ballistic test. And for what? To play the bottom of the ninth of a 11-1 game in front of 30 people. Like, literally … 30 people. So that Andrew Brown can hit a home run while down by ten runs. He's obviously nothing more than a stat compiler. And by stat compiler, I mean he has now compiled three hits, two RBI, and one home run because of the end of the rain delay which interrupted my viewing of Unsealed Aliens.
Obviously the elephant in the room is Terry Collins sending Jordany Valdespin in to pinch hit while the team was down by nine runs after stylin' on a home run down by six runs the night before. Predictably, Valdespin got plunked. Many have wondered why the Mets didn't protect their teammate. If the Mets were worried about protecting Valdespin, he wouldn't have come up to bat in a useless game. Terry Collins gave fresh meat to the wolves and turned it into a teaching moment.
But one thing I'd love for Terry to teach Valdespin is how to get hit by a pitch. Valdespin could say what he wants (and after the game he chose to say nothing), but he had to know he was getting hit unless he's dense. (And considering he let somebody take a picture of him while wearing a Marlins cap, him being dense is up for debate.) He stuck his arm in the way of the pitch when trying to back away when what he really should have done was turn his back to the pitch and take it between the shoulder blades. The dope could have broken his elbow sticking it towards that pitch without a clue, especially when he knew he could get hit. So the little tantrum he threw in the dugout, well that was his own fault in more ways than one.
@metstradamus He stuck his arm in the way because He knew he was gonna hit. Why? Because he put armor on his arm which he never did before
— Matthew Falkenbury (@dailystache) May 12, 2013
That's a great catch by my Daily Stache friend. Proof that he had to know what was coming. It's still not the way batters are taught to deal with a bean ball and Valdespin is lucky that Bryan Morris' pitch came at that level. Any higher or lower and he turns like that, Valdespin is screwed.
I like that Valdespin annoys opponents. I like when he shows emotion. Even when he reacted after hitting a triple down by six runs in and pissed off Philadelphia in the process I didn't mind. This one, I understand the Pirates reaction, and I understand … a tiny bit … the Mets sending him to be plunked. And if this doesn't teach him whatever lesson that the Mets want him to learn, then nothing will and he's going to Milledge his way off the team right or wrong. I hope that if Valdespin leaves the Mets at least it's because of a lack of talent or that somebody else really wants him and will give up something to get him … not because of this nonsense. (But we know that the level of nonsense a team will put up with is proportional to the amount of talent one has. So that goes hand in hand.)
To me there's a line between genuine emotion and showboating. Clapping after a triple in Philadelphia: genuine. High fiving fans after tying the game with a home run: genuine. Flipping the bat hitting a home run down by six in the ninth: ehhhhhhh, a little showboating there. Think about how many times you wanted a batter to be hit after a bat flip like that. Hong Chih Kuo comes to mind (skip to about the 1:48 mark):
And as for protecting your teammate, the Mets don't even protect teammates who deserve protecting. Remember when Timo Perez hit a ninth inning home run against the Rockies to help end a 12 game winning streak and exhaustedly raise his hands as if to say "thank the Lord!"? John Valentin got hit in retaliation, and Timo Perez got thrown at all day the next day in a couple of at-bats before David Weathers finally decided that was enough and retaliated in the ninth. The Mets of 11 years ago felt more of less the same way about Timo Perez as the Mets of today felt about Valdespin, which would explain why Timo was allowed to become a human bullseye for so long. Even with that fact, I was incensed that it took as long as it did for a Met to come to the defense of Perez. Despite what the room felt about him they should have had his back sooner.
The JV1 incident is a very similar situation to that. I'm not sure this situation bothers me as much as the Timo situation did. There was something about his pimping to his HR Friday night that was slightly different than his triple against Philadelphia or Timo's HR against the Rockies. I'm not sure I can explain it except to go back a couple of paragraphs and say that it was slightly more showboating and slightly less genuine emotion. But I'm glad it's over without an injury, and without an incident involving Valdespin's hands and Terry Collins' neck in his office. Hopefully, this stays over and we can worry about whether Valdespin can produce rather than whether he follows all the "unwritten rules". In the grand scheme of things, no matter what anybody's opinion on this is … and no matter how many words I may write about it which turn out to be useless anyway … this isn't a big deal.
(And remember, when you think that something that Valdespin does is classless, just remember that there are others … more experienced … who can be just as immature who should know better.)
What I can explain is that nothing involving Valdespin bothers me nearly as much as the fact that this entire team can't hit (as evidenced by not being able to hit yet another pitcher making his season debut or close to it after an injury), nobody on this team can pitch except Matt Harvey and Scott Rice, everyone is tired to the point where they have to bring up Greg Burke so that Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins, a combined 194 years old, can rest, and Banner Day is held at 10:30 in the morning ensuring that nobody will see the hard work that people put into their art except Kevin Burkhardt and a radio disc jockey. And maybe talking about Valdespin is a convenient excuse for everybody, including me, to avoid talking about the fact that outside of Matt Harvey, David Wright, and a career minor league lefty specialist, this team is awful.
(Update: Add Bobby Parnell to that list. I forget about him because this team isn't allowing him to have an impact. But he's been very good too. And Lucas Duda … kind of.)