Karpin’s Korner: Tunnel of Love

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

Was it a rat, a raccoon, a ground hog or was it a routine ground ball that could become a turning point for the Mets 2021 season? The grounder in question led to an alleged scuffle between teammates in what turned into a bizarre evening at CitiField.

Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jeff McNeil, reportedly provided the main event.

Lindor had his “Met moment” last night. The switch-hitter hit a huge, two run home run in the bottom of the 7th inning, his first at CitiField, to tie the game at four as the Mets rallied from an early 4-0 deficit to score a 5-4 win over Arizona for their third in a row.

Lindor and second-baseman Jeff McNeil allegedly got into a scuffle below the stands after the teams left the field following the top of the 7th inning. For the second time this season, a ground ball that should’ve been played, went between Lindor and McNeil, who were in a shift. That may have triggered this outburst of emotion from two players who haven’t exactly been lighting it up at the plate.

After the top of the 7th ended, SNY TV captured a shot of Michael Conforto and Dom Smith heading towards to the dugout, but suddenly, they turned on the burners and bolted into the tunnel.

Speculation began to circulate that a fight occurred underneath the stands between Lindor and McNeil.

The Mets employ a shift on right handed hitters where McNeil positions himself, just to the left of second base. Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed, hit what appeared to be a routine ground ball to short. McNeil made a move for the ball but backed off. Lindor played the ball on the outfield grass and was unable to throw out Ahmed at first. It was not the first time that this happened this season.

When the night was over, the Mets had a big, come from behind 5-4 win over Arizona and a story line that there was a rat or raccoon in the tunnel that was the cause of the commotion. In the post game zoom, Lindor claimed that he saw a “New York rat,” but McNeil reportedly claimed it was not a rat, but a raccoon. There was some thought that it was a possum, but the Mets were playing possum with this post game story line.

Of course, no one is buying this tall tale (or is it tail?) but this incident could provide a bookmark turning point of the season for the 2021 Mets.

In 1965, the Beatles played Shea Stadium. Last night at CitiField, a parody of the song, “Rocky Raccoon,” may have just provided a story line for the summer:

Rocky Raccoon checked into the Zoom

Only to find baseball’s bible

Rocky had come, equipped with some fun and a yarn upon his arrival

His arrival it seems, had kicked off a scheme to refute a fight with his rival

His rival was McNeil, but he was nicknamed “The Squirrel” and neither wanted to be liable

To say Lindor has been struggling would be an understatement, but he snapped a 0 for 26 skid with a 9th inning hit on Thursday. Last night, he had two more hits, including that big home run that could really jump start his season.

McNeil has also been scuffling, but his defense at second base has been superb of late. Lindor has been a huge part of that improvement, but last night, they had a miscommunication on a routine grounder that should’ve been played.

Both have been frustrated to the point that it probably escalated into last night’s incident in the field and then spilled over into the tunnel.

Already this season, the Mets have had an imaginary hitting instructor named, “Donnie.” Now, there is an unconfirmed story of a rat, or raccoon. Take your pick. Remember, the Mets used to have a Harvey on their team, but it wasn’t an imaginary rabbit.

If the Mets go on a run and have a big season, will it be a rat, a raccoon or a ground ball that will define the 2021 season.

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