Saturday, July 14, 2007

Rickey

The game was a classic. It included an improbable comeback from 5 runs; a huge game-tying home run off the bat of one future hall-of-famer, from the pitch of another future hall-of-famer. It included 2 blown saves by two historical choke artists. And it ended in the 11th inning on a bases-loaded walk.

That classic game was Game 6 of the 1999 National League Championship series against the Braves. It was one of the most exhilarating games in Mets history. It was also one of the most excruciating defeats. According to some reports, players were screaming, some were even crying after the loss; except for one guy…Rickey Henderson. He was playing cards in the clubhouse. Yup, good ‘ole Rickey Henderson along with “legendary” Met, Bobby Bonilla, was playing Pinnacle while his teammates were grinding out a hard-fought playoff game. "Guys who saw (the card game) wanted to take a bat to their heads after the game," one person affiliated with the team said.

Nearly six months later, Henderson was released from the organization for failing to reach second base on a ball he hit off the wall. He assumed he hit a home run and went into his typical Rickey trot.

Today, eight years later, that same man is back wearing the same Mets uniform he so thoroughly disgraced; this time, as the first base coach. And I’m not sure I understand why, especially when this team has had its own issues hustling out plays.

Since Omar arrived here in the Fall of 2004, he has transformed this team from a pretender to a contender and almost single-handedly helped this organization shed their long-time 2nd class image. I firmly believe he is building a tradition here. But the decision to fire Rick Downs and hire Rickey Henderson seems slightly misguided if not, a bit over reactive and goes against that tradition. And why bring in a guy who only thinks about himself? Rickey Henderson, while a wonderful player, is one of the most selfish and controversial players in the history of the game. The guy literally talks about himself in the 3rd person. He’s a huge personality – do we really need him at first base, in the club house?

Last night, during the telecast, Chris Burke talked about how Lastings Milledge discussed Rickey’s influence on him and how he’s talked to him about how to handle being a star, how to act as a baseball player. Maybe that explains Milledge’s problems with his teammates last season; and his hip hop career.

Look, I know he’s tutored Jose Reyes and it obviously has paid off. (His ego loves this fact more than Reyes’ improvement most likely). I have no issue with the guy being hired as a consultant during spring training, talking to guys about base running, and being patient at the plate. Is it a big deal that he’s here? No. I just don’t want him on my team. After all, the way I had felt after that playoff game in Atlanta, I too would have wanted to take a bat to his head.

2 comments:

dave said...

Fantastic post. That playoff game in Atlanta made me want to put my head through a wall.

Rickey is one of Omar's guys though. We'll have to see how this plays out.

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