200 Miles From the Citi

August 15, 2010 7:40 AM

Fired Up


Sunday Paper (Year 2, Volume XXXIII)

I don't love the idea of fighting in baseball.

There are too many unknowns - someone could get hurt, it sets a bad example for the kids, it could spill into the seats and endanger fans - but sometimes it's a necessary evil.

Sometimes a brawl sends a message - as was the case in Cincinnati on Tuesday, when the Reds and Cardinals went at it.

And the result of a brawl is that it shows the teams care - and it can bring a team closer together.

It's in that vein that I would love a good benches-clearing brawl from the Mets.

Here's the deal - part of me would hate a brawl too.  I've told this story before, but it's been a while, so bear with me.  I remember a brawl between the Mets and Cubs, I'm going to say it was in 1996.  After the benches cleared and bullpens emptied, I remember Turk Wendell (then with the Cubs) crashing the Mets' Rico Brogna into the brick wall behind home plate.  If I am remembering correctly, Brogna hurt his shoulder, ended up on the DL, and was never the same player.  So there's that very real risk that someone would get hurt - Jason LaRue suffered injuries in Tuesday's scuffle, which took place mostly behind home plate, similar to that Mets-Cubs fight.  And if a David Wright were to get hurt in a situation like that, it would be the worst thing ever for the Mets.

But look at the Reds and Cardinals - they're winning teams.  Look at the managers involved - Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker...they're winners.  (Maybe not people I'd enjoy hanging out with...but they win games.)  Something tells me a Jerry Manuel-led team isn't really getting into too many dust-ups.  (Look at the 1986 Mets - 5 brawls?  1 World Series championship.)

I have my issues with the Tuesday brawl, too - did Brandon Phillips really do anything wrong by saying he hated the Cardinals?  He might have cost himself a job in St. Louis someday, but other than that, I think baseball needs more of it - I'm tired of guys from rival teams getting along because they have the same agent.  So why exactly did the Cardinals take such exception? Seems to me after all this that Phillips is right - they are complainers.  If they complain about his comments, they must complain about everything.

My other issue with the fight?  Phillips' performance.  If you're going to open your mouth, back it up with your play.  He came up in a number of clutch situations that night and failed each time.  For the series he was 2-for-14, and the Reds were swept by the Cardinals.

So here's my advice for the Mets to show some fire:  1)  Empty the benches someday (I don't remember it happening since the second-to-last day of the 2007 season against the Marlins, involving Jose Reyes and Miguel Olivo...but that one was lame).  2)  Make sure it's for a good reason.  3)  Use it as a motivation tool for the rest of the season.  (Don't make it this season, which is already down the it for next year.)  4)  Protect your stars - don't let David Wright get hurt.  5)  And then go out and back it up with some winning baseball.

*A big case-in-point in the fifth inning Saturday night - Placido Polanco went way out of his way to take out Jose Reyes on a play at second base - rolling him out of the play.  Believe it or not the Phillies complained about interference on the play.  Look at this picture at the left - you can' even see the bag.  Nothing about that is legal.  Polancoo should have gotten a pitch in his ear the next time up.  Or tonight.

*I had a great time at the Mets game Friday night, but I think I'm done spending any money on this organization until they make some changes.  I'll watch the games, I'll write about them...but I will not contribute in any financial way until I feel good about the team I'm contributing to.

*On a related note - I'm bothered by the handling of the Francisco Rodriguez situation.  Seems way too lenient to me.  I don't think the Mets are sending the right message, and it reeks of desperation.  The Mets need wins, and they need Francisco Rodriguez to get those wins.  (They needed two complete game shutouts to get two wins in his absence.)  If the Mets were winning this season, they would have done it the same way, I'm sure.  The punishment might have been more harsh if the Mets were totally out of it - but that's not right either.  It should be the same no matter how the baseball on the field is.  Anger management is fine - but I feel like Rodriguez crossed way too many lines to just allow him to come back to the team after just two days.

*I have a new optimist's theory about the Darrelle Revis holdout.  This came to me after seeing a tweet from New England fan Bill Simmons - he commented gleefully on the holdout and said, "Don't rush back Revis".  I'm sure he's not the only one - there are probably receivers across the league thinking the same thing.  And that's where my strategy comes in - just when Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss, et al. start thinking Revis won't play this year....he signs with the team and sucks the wind out of those guys before they even step on the field.  Just a huge mental game.

*Someday I'll give a full review of the people on MLB Network and what I think of the work they do - there are some huge hits and some huge misses - but I'll throw this out there now - Rex Hudler debuted Wednesday night.  Who out there was missing Rex Hudler on TV?  Ugh.

*I am lucky to have good friends who will always send me an article I may have missed that I would enjoy.  This one, about Tim Kurkjian's geekiness, is an example.  Thanks to Justin for sending it over - and for the accompanying note:  "I can't help but think of you when I read this.  He shares your lovable obsessiveness."  That's why we're such good friends - I don't think even my wife considers my obsessiveness "lovable".

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