Now that, to steal from “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” was a daring technique for Francisco Lindor.
Let’s see if it pays off for him.
The Mets’ $341-million man loved his finest recreation along with his new group, slamming a game-tying, two-run homer within the seventh inning because the Mets registered arguably their biggest win of the season, 5-4 in 10 innings over the Diamondbacks at Citi Field. Yet following the sport, the outcome grew to become secondary to an out-of-sight disagreement, dutifully documented by the Mets’ own regional sports network, SNY, between Lindor and his double-play companion Jeff McNeil in the midst of the seventh inning.
That disagreement, a laughing Lindor informed reporters a couple of minutes after the Mets prevailed on a swinging bunt by rookie Patrick Mazeika (his first profession RBI), entailed whether or not Lindor and McNeil, located within the tunnel that connects the house group’s dugout to its clubhouse saw a rat or a raccoon.
“I told [McNeil], ‘Hey, I’ve never seen a New York rat,’ ” Lindor defined. “So we went down sprinting to go see a New York rat. And he got mad at me. He’s like, ‘No, it’s not a rat, it’s a raccoon.’ I’m like, ‘Hell, no, man.’ … Crazy, because we were going back and forth whether it was a rat or raccoon.”
Crazy, as a result of was Lindor, his traditionally wonderful media relations expertise giving him a sixth instrument of types, blow-torching his credibility on the identical evening he (at the very least briefly) silenced the boos?
The reply could be no, so long as no matter occurred with McNeil — one thing that clearly was extra consequential than an intense debate over animal sort — doesn’t reoccur, like a raccoon making one other run at your rubbish can.
“It’s great,” McNeil stated of his relationship with Lindor. “He’s fantastic to be around. I enjoy working up the middle with him and I look forward to working with him all year.”
Critically, McNeil backed up Lindor on his ludicrous story, embellishing it along with his personal contact: “To be honest, I thought it was actually a possum.” If McNeil had chosen to no-comment along with his finest stone face, or just blow off the media — a selection far simpler now on this pandemic time of Zoom entry solely — then he would have set off alarms.
The alarms went off when Michael Conforto, after catching Daulton Varsho’s flyball on the warning observe to finish the highest of the seventh, and fellow outfielder Dom Smith sprinted into the dugout, down the steps, out of view, with different teammates, together with Pete Alonso, following.
At that time, a special play from the highest of the seventh grew to become essential: With Lindor shaded extra towards third base and McNeil positioned to the left of second base for the Diamondbacks’ righty-hitting Nick Ahmed — that’s proper, blame the shift — Ahmed slapped a grounder to the shortstop gap. Lindor hesitated earlier than pursuing the ball, and his throw proved too late, giving Ahmed a present single.
“We were a little upset,” McNeil stated. “It was a miscommunication.”
And not the primary one this season. How a lot that frustration constructed as much as result in the following encounter, solely the 2 males know.
Mets supervisor Luis Rojas, who desperately needed to debate the sport itself (and it was a heck of a win), stated he didn’t know precisely what occurred, though he refused to play together with the “Rat vs. raccoon vs. possum” story.
“The family concept is alive here,” Rojas stated, and because the father determine within the clubhouse, it falls on him, bigly, to make sure that the 2 males are good to go shifting ahead.
Lindor’s news-conference efficiency — his selection on the right way to deal with his first actual controversy — was jarring just because we don’t know him that effectively but. A no-comment, or a misdirection (“All that matters is that we won”), or a vow of confidentiality (“What happens among us stays among us”) would’ve been safer avenues there.
Because it doesn’t matter what occurs with Lindor, his 2021 OPS now as much as a still-underwhelming .549, shifting ahead as a Met, we’re unlikely to overlook this evening. Can he pull off this maneuver by regaining his All-Star kind and embracing the absurdity of his rat tale? Or will his struggles and tensions reemerge, his storytelling turning into some extent of mockery?
As if this Mets season wanted any extra drama, proper?