K-Rod Is A Punk
There has been quite a bit of excitement over Francisco Rodriguez’s response to Willie Harris after Harris was hit by a pitch on Sunday afternoon.
If you’ve been trolling the various Mets blogs and forums, you may have noticed a very positive sentiment regarding K-Rod’s “fire”, and celebration by Mets fans who loved that K-Rod threw multiple F-bombs at Harris, nearly inciting a brawl.
I don’t disagree that Harris should’ve done a better job of getting out of the way of the ball — but, I feel that way about nearly EVERY MLB hitter. And, I don’t disagree that this Mets club has lacked fire and intensity for some time. I do disagree that K-Rod’s outburst was acceptable and inspiring. If anything, it was slightly embarrassing, inappropriate, unprofessional, and immature. In short, K-Rod overreacted to the situation, and in my mind, made himself look bad to anyone other than a biased Mets fan.
Yes, K-Rod is an emotional player by nature. Yes, he just experienced a very emotional time in his personal life, concerning his brothers’ car accident. And it’s not a huge deal that he overreacted to the situation. But I’m not going to paint his uncontrolled, unnecessary behavior on Sunday as something inspirational, or something we need to see more of from the Mets. It was bush league, and did nothing for the Mets’ reputation other than to make them look like crybabies. There’s a time and a place for expressing emotion and getting intense; at the end of a winless ballgame is far from that time and place.
It’s understood, though, that Mets fans think any bit of emotion shown on the field is a positive thing. We’ve been starved of intensity for nearly a decade. So when one actually sees a heart beating, and a bit of temper, it can easily be misconstrued as something good — because anything is better than nothing.
It’s sad, really, that we haven’t seen intensity in so long that we believe what K-Rod did was something awesome. In truth, it wasn’t.
Let’s re-create the situation from an objective view. Team A is losing by 3 runs, and it’s been such a long and frustrating day they may as well be losing by 10 runs. Their closer — who has no saves on the year yet because the team stinks to high heaven — is in the game not because it’s genuinely winnable, but because he needs to get work in. The player at the plate is in the middle of a three-headed platoon monster in right field for Team B. He has a rare chance to prove he’s worthy of playing time by getting into the game as a substitute at 3B. On the second pitch of this opportunity, Team A’s closer hits him with a 92-MPH fastball on a tender, non-meaty part of his forearm, near the elbow.
Those of you who have been hit on that section of the anatomy by a 90+ MPH fastball know exactly what comes out of your mouth in response — a four-letter word beginning with “F”. It is an automatic response brought on by pain, and nothing else. It doesn’t matter whether you made an effort to get out of the way, it doesn’t matter what the score is; nothing matters other than that white heat of pain, and 99% of the time you SCREAM the “F” word in response (the other 1% of the time, you scream the 4-letter word that starts with “sh”).
As the hit batsman for Team B jogs down to first, he’s still smarting from the pain inflicted only seconds before, and the animal in him glares out at the mound for a moment. Note: he does not say anything, he simply glares. It’s a glare that says, “you son of a gun, that freakin’ hurt and I’m ticked off”.
The closer for Team A, in turn, begins sprinting at the hit batsman, throwing F bombs and challenging him to a fight.
If you were a fan of Team B, how would you genuinely assess this reaction by the closer on Team A? As something inspiring? Or more like, an immature explosion of frustration by a team and a person that has had a few very frustrated days? In other words, a “spoilsport” who realizes he can’t win the game so he tries to incite a fight to release his pent-up emotions.
Again, I don’t necessarily blame K-Rod for reacting the way he did, considering his personal situation and the Mets in general. But I’m not going to condone it, and certainly not going to celebrate it.
Rob Dibble, on XM Home Plate on Monday morning, called K-Rod a “punk” for his actions. A lot of people don’t care for Dibble because of his old school mentality and complete disregard for any modern statistics. That’s fine. But Dibble pitched in the Major Leagues, occasionally as a closer, always with extreme emotion — much like K-Rod. For most of his career, he was known as someone who was not afraid to throw inside, and who would “dust you” if need be. Dibble also consistently complains that batters don’t get out of the way of pitches, and has a major problem with the rules that have prevented pitchers from pitching inside. He almost always takes the side of the pitcher in situations concerning pitchers and hitters, and particularly on the subject of hit batsmen. Yet, even Dibble agrees that Francisco Rodriguez overreacted to the situation. He went a little far by calling him “a punk”, but that’s Dibs for you. And though Dibble was the color-man for the Nats’ TV broadcast, I believe his assessment of the situation was fairly objective — he saw it as two men — Rodriguez AND Harris — venting frustration. Nothing more, nothing less.
And that’s the way I saw it as well. Nothing more, nothing less.