Matt Cain and the Hat Tip

Normally I wouldn’t re-hash something that’s three days old, but this issue is something that needs to be cleared up — there are too many ignorant people blinded by emotion, and holding an unnecessary anger against an opposing ballplayer.

On Saturday afternoon, as you know, Matt Cain drilled David Wright in the head, knocking him out and sending him to the hospital. It was an ugly, frightening incident. It was also an accident and unintentional.

Several innings later, when Cain was removed from the game, the Flushing faithful booed him with a thunderous passion. That’s fine — it’s what happens when one dusts the hometown hero, accidentally or not.

Just prior to stepping into the Giants dugout, Cain tipped his cap — a brief moment that was captured by the FOX cameras and replayed after the commercial break to ensure that no one missed it. The genius in the broadcast booth — Mark Grace — commented that the gesture was not good idea. Since then, there has been a frenzy of fans and who have thrown vile epithets toward Cain on various talk radio shows, Mets blogs, forums and Twitter, describing it as “tasteless”, “classless”, “disgusting”, “evil”, and at least a dozen other descriptors that are not family friendly.

For fans who don’t know any better, the reaction is typical and not surprising — and understood. After all, they saw the hat tipping and connected it directly to the beanball — never mind that there were four innings of baseball in between. David Wright going down was the ONLY thing that happened that day, as far as many people were concerned. Further, many of the angered fans received their information second-hand from someone else who was riled up about the incident and didn’t see the REAL reason Cain tipped his cap.

But when “journalists” feed the frenzy with more misinformation, I have to call them out. After all, we bloggers get lambasted for being “unprofessional” every time we report something that isn’t true. I may not get paid to write this blog, but I do know that a basic tenet of journalism is to get the facts straight.

So here is the factual information about the moment before Matt Cain tipped his cap: behind the visitors’ dugout were somewhere between 300 and 500 diehard GIANTS FANS. Many people who were AT THE GAME and SITTING IN THAT SECTION have corraborated this. In fact, if you watch the replay of Cain tipping his cap — the camera is at his back — you can see very clearly there are dozens of people in San Francisco Giants jerseys directly behind the dugout, standing up and clapping.

Now, while 95% of the people at Kiddie Field were fixated on the beanball, for those Giants fans sitting behind the visitors’ dugout, the moment had passed. They were cheering for “their” player, and Cain acknowledged it with a simple tip of the cap. Nothing flashy, no measured pause and flamboyant bow — just a quick tip.

Maybe Cain should’ve known better than to tip his cap. Somehow, though, I doubt he considered that he’d be ticking off five million New Yorkers with his act. For most players, it’s a reaction — crowd cheers for you, you acknowledge it. It’s good manners. Except in New York, an hour after you’ve sent the favorite son to the hospital.

It’s up to you, the fan, to decide. But please make your decision based on the facts of the situation, rather than relying on hearsay thrown around by irresponsible journalists.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Criminy August 18, 2009 at 11:06 am
    I don’t care. He’s still a turd. So are the fans that cheered him.
  2. Ken August 18, 2009 at 11:34 am
    Justify it all you want dude. Cain is garbage. And if “Kiddie” field bothers you so much, then don’t show up.
  3. joejanish August 18, 2009 at 11:49 am
    Ken, thanks for the suggestion — I’ll likely take your advice and stay far away from Flushing the rest of the summer. Not much of interest going on there anyway. And who wants to see the Mets lose to garbage and turds anyhow?
  4. Walnutz15 August 18, 2009 at 11:56 am
    For the record, Cain and Wright were talking before last night’s game.

    He’d also left Wright a voicemail to see how he was doing….and if I recall, may have even apologized in his statements after the game.

    Met fans who think Cain was going head-hunting on an 0-2 count and a runner on — on a day where he scattered 6 hits through 7 and a third — should probably take a nice, big sip from the glass of reality.

    Lay off the Blue-and-Orange kool-aid: the pitch slipped and went a bit too high-and-tight on Wright.

    Case closed.

    Funny thing is: people are making more of a big deal about Cain — than they were about Wright not even looking in the direction of a guy who really meant to drill him in the face last week.

  5. isuzudude August 20, 2009 at 11:24 am
    Great post ‘nutz. Agree 1000%. Some people, like Ken and Criminy, just want someone to hate, and Cain made himself an easy target. And if you disagree with their misguided hatred, they will hate you too. What a way to live.
  6. metsdude September 1, 2009 at 11:06 pm
    Nutz – this is not about the beaning. I think everyone will agree he didn’t do it on purpose. Its about the hat tip. Most will think its disrespectful to do that in an opposing stadium. He might have meant it only for the Giants fans behind the dugout, but regardless, he came off as an asshole to everyone else in the stadium. I’m sure people would get the same reaction if Johan tipped their hat in SF or ATL or Philly. So quit it with the kool-aid bs and read the damn article. geez. you would think you’d read the entry at the very least before replying.