Leave it to the Mets to take the heat off the New York Knicks.
Just hours after Basketball Rasputin Isiah Thomas fell on his sword, the Queens Carnival re-opened at Citi Field.
After a tough loss, where Manny Acosta gave up a game-winning grand slam to Melvin Mora in the eighth inning, leading to a 6-2 loss, things just got ugly.
Amid a few players grumbling about the team’s commitment to win, closer Francisco Rodriguez went off the deep end. Apparently feeling he should have had the ball with two outs in the eighth, the closer was having none of it after the game, getting into a fight with his father-in-law in the tunnel outside the Met Clubhouse and snapping profanities at reporters who were looking for a quote from the 28 year-old.
“Did I (bleeping) pitch?” K-Rod responded as reporters approached him. “Did I (bleeping) pitch? Then I have nothing to say to you.”
Rodriguez was then approached by Kristie Ackert of the Daily News, who asked him a question and was told to mind her business by the volatile stopper.
Afterwards New York City Police and Mets security went into the back to question K-Rod, who was then charged with third-degree assault (a misdemeanor) and held overnight in the Citi Field police station.
Meanwhile his father-in-law was taken to Flushing Hospital with bruises and lacerations on his face after being punched by K-Rod. He was treated and released.
So now the Mets are one game under .500, not winning two games in a row since June 22nd and 23rd, with a closer in the can and no stopping this free-fall.
Now you can’t blame Jerry Manuel for Rodriguez’s reprehensible actions, but you do have to wonder about his moves. With the season on the brink why didn’t he bring K-Rod in during the eighth inning? Manuel said he didn’t want his closer to pitch in the eighth after going the night before, but that just seems foolish. Without last night’s win, it won’t matter what Rodriguez does in September as those games just won’t count.
Alas, it seems like Manuel has lost his clubhouse. While there are player who seem to really care about winning, such as Angel Pagan, Chris Carter, David Wright, and obviously K-Rod, there are others who see this as a job where they will get paid no matter if they win or lose. Add Manuel’s care free style into the mix and you can see why the Mets are falling apart.
For lack of a better term, the Mets need a “hard-ass”, someone who will not tolerate a losing attitude. Every time the Mets were good, the team had a manager who didn’t tolerate losing. The players feared Gil Hodges, although that was a very different time and Davey Johnson allowed a lot to go on as long as they players won.
And remember when Bobby Valentine took over the club? He cleaned house dumping the prominent players he felt were not committed to winning.
The Mets need that again. A strong willed manager will force each player on the team into a commitment of winning. Obviously Wally Backman fits that bill, but the team seems content to allow him to win his Penn League championship.
It’s time to act, though, and Manuel’s welcome has worn out. As a lame duck, the players don’t have the same respect for him, knowing he won’t be around next year. Bring in Backman, who may jumpstart the team. At least it will keep the Mets interesting, hopefully keep the closer in line and we can all go back to making fun of the Knicks.