You’ve heard the expression, “Win the press conference.” Francisco Lindor will win more than the press conference. Lindor met the NY media in 2020-2021 style, a Zoom call earlier today, and you could sense his energy and his passion for the game of baseball.
The 26-year old switch-hitting shortstop said all the right things and it sounded sincere. That has not always been the case when a superstar comes to New York with all the fanfare and advanced billing. (See: Yankees and Randy Johnson) “I’m blessed to be able to play the greatest game out there in the biggest city in the world, probably the most fun city in the world,” he said.
What stood out to me is the word, “me.” You don’t spell Lindor with those two letters, both literally and figuratively. It doesn’t seem to be in Lindor’s vocabulary. This kid is a team player. “I have never been the type of player, where it’s like, follow me, I’ll lead you to success,” Lindor said, “but I’ve always been a person that, together, we all can achieve what we want.”
Lindor is the whole package. He has the talent, the moxie and the smarts to forge a successful stint as a New York Met. He’s aware of what’s been happening in Queens ever since Steve Cohen bought the team. “I know you guys [the Mets] have a great thing going on, I just want to be a little piece of that puzzle.”
One of the requirements to “survive” in New York and play well is to be a person who “gets it.” Francisco Lindor gets it. “That’s what I bring, that’s what I’m bringing. I’m bringing my, ‘Hey guys, let’s find a way to do this together,” he said.
Lindor has a rep for being a leader on and off the field, although he downplayed that skill. “I’m not trying to get a rope and get everybody [to] hold the rope and I’ll pull you guys,” Lindor said. “No, we’re all grabbing the rope right next to each other and we’re walking forward.”
His leadership skills were on full display last August when he criticized two teammates for violating Covid protocols. Indians pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac were both placed on the Covid list after it was found they violated Covid protocols. This potentially put other teammates at risk, particularly Carlos Carrasco, who dealt with Leukemia.
Lindor put up a post on social media that took Clevinger and Plesac to task for their actions. “It’s not about one person, it’s about everybody around you,” Lindor posted. He went on to add, “This is a time to be selfless.” Sometimes a gesture of showing that you care about others goes a long way towards earning respect and Lindor has earned the respect of teammates and peers alike.
Lindor is also a fierce competitor who enjoys the big stage. Ballnine.com baseball columnist Kevin Kernan has seen Lindor many times and he joined “Karpin’s Korner” on 365sportscast.com this past weekend. Kernan compared Lindor to Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar. “Loves the spotlight,” Kernan said. “I think he’ll love the adulation of fans. That was something that he really missed last year.”
I hope the Met fans will show some patience in the early going with Lindor because you’ve seen this script play out over and over throughout the years. Maybe he’ll get off to a fast start and alleviate the pressure right away, but there have been others that have had trouble navigating the New York baseball scene when they first arrive. Mike Piazza, Roberto Alomar, Jason Bay, Bret Saberhagen. (Saberhagen gave up 14 earned runs in seven innings pitched in his first two starts as a Met) The list goes on and on. Players that came to New York who were labeled as a can’t miss. For one reason or another, these players got off to slow starts. It could’ve been because they were trying to to live up to a monster contract or they were trying to please a new and highly critical fan base.
When it’s all said and done, Francisco Lindor has a chance to go down as the best shortstop in Mets’ franchise history.
Tune in to “Karpin’s Korner,” Sunday nights from 8-9 pm, eastern time on 365sportscast.com. Intelligent sports talk, interesting and informative guests and debatable opinions are the staple of the show.