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.

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. trs86 April 13, 2010 at 8:17 am
    You say that Dibble went a little far by calling him a punk yet in your title you emphasize that comment. Not only that, by not placing quotations around the phrase it appears as though you to are calling Krod a punk.
  2. Walnutz15 April 13, 2010 at 8:39 am
    I look at Rob Dibble in the same manner as I looked at “Bad Guy” WWF wrestlers in the 80’s. You just have to laugh at him for the comedy he provides — he’ll never have a good word to say about the Mets, and that’s that.

    It’s become funny to me.

    Back to K-Rod:

    I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been hit by a pitch before in our lifetime.

    Some of us have had the pleasure of playing with guys you love to have on your team, but are absolutely hated by the opposition.

    That’s how I view K-Rod.

    Is he over the top? Absolutely……

    Is he “one of ours”? Yup.

    Will he change, in all probability? Probably not.

    Harris did himself in with his choice of words, and timing. Had he not dropped a “mutha(luva)” while staring directly at K-Rod — this might have never happened.

    Much ado about nothing, as is the case with your typical baseball “altercation”.

    You’re right, Joe. Some of us have just been looking for a pulse for so long, that this might have been viewed as a “good” thing for the Mets.

    I’ve wondered for a very long time if any of these pansies that we employ – would ever step up and throw a haymaker to defend themselves, if pushed.

    I don’t wonder about that with K-Rod.

  3. Walnutz15 April 13, 2010 at 8:44 am
    * Footnote *

    And to clarify what I mean about it being a “good” thing……I’m not saying it means they’ll start winning ballgames because of it.

    I just like knowing that the team isn’t completely without testosterone. Francoeur is another guy who seems to be less “vanilla” than the rest of the Met roster.

    These guys had better step it up…first 2 series have been dropped at home — against teams that many Met fans have taken from granted that they’re “automatically better than” for some stupid reason.

    For the 4th straight season, I’m preaching that I have no idea whether or not this rotation is capable of allowing us to put together a prolonged winning streak.

    ….I just don’t see it.

  4. joejanish April 13, 2010 at 9:28 am
    trs86 – yep. Guilty. Every once in a while I write a headline intended to entice people to read a post. Learned it in journalism 101.

    It’s possible that Dibble echoes my sentiment re: K-Rod’s “punkness”. Though, Walnutz says it best above:

    “Some of us have had the pleasure of playing with guys you love to have on your team, but are absolutely hated by the opposition.

    That’s how I view K-Rod.”

  5. isuzudude April 13, 2010 at 11:56 am
    KRod is a punk. End of story. There’s no need to tippy-toe around feelings or pander to the hometown fans because KRod is a Met. Maybe I’m in the minority, but just because an unlikeable player dons the Orange and Blue does not mean I have to like him. KRod is the epitome of this sentiment.

    What’s really to like about Rodriguez? He blew the save against the Yankees in which Castillo dropped the popup and proceeded to throw Castillo under the bus instead of coming to his defense. He tried starting a fight with Brian Bruney during pre-game warmups in Washington. He threw Dan Murphy under the bus in a game the Mets lost in Atlanta. Now he’s trying to start a fight with a guy who did nothing more than blurt out a curse word after getting hit by a pitch. Meantime, Krod’s contributions with the Mets have been less than stellar so far, and his antics after every save/strikeout/big play resemble that of a pitcher closing out game 7 of the WS, which I’m sure he’d have serious problems with if he saw someone else on the opposition doing the same thing. And if someone on the Mets had gotten plunked by a fastball and their retaliation was merely saying the F word out loud, I’m also pretty sure Krod would say the opposing pitcher would have been out of line if they reacted the same was Krod had on Sunday. He’s a hot-headed, hypocritical punk who either needs to drop the attitude or focus it more on being an elite closer and less on being an Ultimate Fighter contestant.

    Put this guy on the Phillies or Yankees and I guarantee Met fans think he’s the devil rather than an inspiration. That’s all that needs to be said.

  6. trs86 April 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    Joe, I understand that. But it appears as though you were using Dibble’s comments to call him a punk without doing it yourself but then again also implying that you agree with it. If YOU feel he is a punk, call him one.
  7. joejanish April 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm
    trs86 – that would be unoriginal of me, since someone else beat me to it.

    BTW nice image of Jerry as Gandhi on TheRealDirty. Where have I seen that before? 🙂

  8. trs86 April 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm
    Hey was that Gandhi pic yours? Good job if so. One of my authors used it today. Joe, I think you are misunderstanding me though. How you get your views are up to you. I just am trying to figure out if you feel that Krod is a punk or is that just Dibble? Was it over the top or do you agree?
  9. joejanish April 13, 2010 at 10:48 pm
    trs86 – heck yeah that’s my pic, see the “Manuel being Manuel” category to the right. I agree with Dibble, K-Rod is a punk. Not just because of Sunday but in general. I don’t like him, never did. I’m old school, and don’t like ANYONE who goes overboard with the gyrations, etc., on the field. To me, it’s bush. You can be emotional without acting like every game is Game 7. In other words, act like you’ve done it before, and channel that energy toward execution.

    But it’s a new, young world and I’m an old fart, so I don’t expect nor ask many to agree with my view.

  10. DG April 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm
    I’m a Mets fan but I’m not going to defend K-Rod. He didn’t need to act out. This team clubhouse went down the tubes when Pedro went on the DL and Delgado’s bad attitude took over. (Good riddance Delgado) I’m all for bringing back Bobby V! He took a team with no talent and made them realize they could win to the post series in 2000.