West Side Story Drama Erupts in Mets Minor League Camp


Earlier this week, uber-phenom Zack Wheeler and slugging prospect Aderlin Rodriguez engaged in an on-field altercation that escalated into an off-field, ethnically divisive war.

Said a person with knowledge close to the situation,

“Zack knows that when you’re a Met you’re a Met all the way from your first cigarette to your last dying day.”

The Sharks had no response.

I must admit, the inspiration for this opening came from “Tommy2Cat” (and follow-up by “KevinArnold9″ in the comments section of MetsBlog.

Normally I would glaze over this news with a “ho-hum” but now with the news that Johan Santana is out for the year, I think the way this Wheeler-Rodriguez story is being handled is indicative of what Mets fans will be seeing from the tabloids all spring and summer: news about off-field issues, because the on-field story is likely to lack intrigue.

Here’s what happened: in an intrasquad game, after hitting a Zack Wheeler pitch over the fence, Aderlin Rodriguez “Cadillacked it” around the bases (or as the young people call it these days, “pimped it out”). In his next at-bat, Rodriguez was hit on the hand by a Wheeler fastball, and there was fear that the hand might have been broken. In the clubhouse later, Rodriguez supposedly said to Wheeler that if he (Rodriguez) missed Opening Day as a result, then Wheeler would too. The threat apparently resulted in some heated discussion between the two and drew in the opinions of other teammates.

Adam Rubin reported the story on ESPN-NY without any hint of bias or exaggeration. However, the story published by Andy Martino at The Daily News had a much more sensationalized take, reporting that “ethnic tensions” resulted in the clubhouse.

Hey, I get that the tabloids need to sell papers and induce page views. Most of my headlines, in fact, are geared toward getting people on social media channels to click and visit MetsToday (that’s a headline’s purpose, after all — to entice the reader to continue reading). But I want to know from you, the baseball fan: do you accept yellow journalism from baseball writers? Do you want to read about off-field incidents whose angles don’t connect to on-field performance? In this case, do you believe that this story is indicative of an ethnic divide in the Mets organization that needs to be addressed? If so, do you also believe it’s something that needs to be made public? And should personal stories be penned by baseball beat writers, whose specialty is on-field reporting?

Sound off in the comments.

2013 Spring Training

About the Author

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.

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