Conspiracy Theorists

An article by posted on September 9, 2010

This latest media hub bub regarding three Mets really has my blood boiling.  No, not about what you think – the fact that it’s a story to begin with, that’s what gets me.  I guess the Mets having another subpar season isn’t enough for local sports writers these days and adding fuel to the Mets fans fires with the three particular players in question will sell more papers, I suppose.  I actually don’t have a problem if Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez or Carlos Beltran couldn’t make a non-mandatory (operative word) event.  It was non-mandatory for a reason.  Would it have been a cool gesture had they attended?  Absolutely.  But they did not HAVE to go or answer to schmoes like you and me as to why they didn’t.

Picture it this way: would bloggers, local writers, fans, etc. be up in arms had it been, I don’t know, David Wright, Ike Davis and Jon Niese who didn’t attend?  Let’s say David Wright had to attend to a school opening in rural Virginia that he was responsible for, Ike Davis said he didn’t have to speak about non-baseball issues and Jon Niese, being a young guy, said veterans made him “uncomfortable.”

I think some of us would roll our eyes and go about our business, but because it happened to include Castillo, Perez, and Beltran — three Mets players who were not as much “prominent” as some writers suggested but under fire for underperformance in particular — THEN it became a story.  Chances are, if Wright, Davis or Niese didn’t attend, most of us would shrug and say, “Meh, whatever.  It wasn’t mandatory.”  My guess is we’d have never heard about the great things that Fred Wilpon and particularly Sterling Enterprises do for veterans, if at all.  It would have quietly been kept under wraps, as most charitable works are.  Which is sad, because the team really is getting one thing right, at least on the paying-it-forward department.

What really gets my goat here is the timing.  Far be it for me to defend Castillo or Perez, but I happen to think Beltran has been taking too much criticism these days.  Anyway, the whole propaganda about three Mets who are recently being called into question for various reasons are being thrown under the bus once again for being non-patriotic, or seemingly so.  I have even heard some fans say, “Well they are not citizens,” or “they are not FROM here.”  Well, technically, they aren’t “from here” but Beltran is most definitely a U.S. citizen.  You know what is sad about this whole situation?  That the 30 players who DID make the trip, some of them not U.S. born, were not mentioned.  The good that came out of the Mets players’ visits to the veterans’ morale.  That is what is missing in these stories.  But no, because it was the Mets, because it happened to center around these two players, I guess the press saw a GOLD MINE of material.

There are two very big reasons why these three were called into question  One is that we are two days away from the saddest day in U.S. history.  New Yorkers, in general, are incredibly sensitive to any perceived anti-patriotism, especially so close to home.  The general feeling is, these three guys are given the opportunity to make exorbitant amounts of money in this very country, and they can’t even take an hour or two out of their schedule to visit soldiers who fight for their right to make said money (among other things).

The other reason is something anyone with any working senses can get: the Mets want these guys to be as uncomfortable as possible.  In the same town where Dick Young had a hand (or “underhand”) in driving The Franchise out of town, the Mets are doing the same by planting seeds that these guys don’t support our country, our troops and don’t support YOU, the tax-paying citizens who keep this country great.  So let’s make their lives as miserable as possible so they no longer want to play here, that they “retire” or “quit” on their own.  Although that won’t happen, my feeling is this is more directed at Beltran, with his backloaded contract, the Mets I’m sure would like nothing more than to have him waive his no-trade clause and wave bye-bye to New York.

Just merely an observation that I’ve made.

Don’t get me wrong.  I get the discord, I get why people are upset.  What I don’t get is the vitriol behind it.  The New York media of course is ALL OVER this like white on rice because of the significant heart-string impact it will make.  Not only with the timing of a sensitive historical event but because Mets fans have made it clear that these three guys are the bane of their existence.

Of course I recognize these guys have not made a good case for themselves with this particular visit.  Beltran is the only player who has somewhat taken the high road, saying that he had visited veterans with Fred Wilpon (who should be applauded for his support of these worthy causes), but he had to attend to personal business with his charities in Puerto Rico.  With that logic, shouldn’t we call Carlos Beltran PATRIOTIC for using his wealth and philanthropy for the common good in his native land?

Castillo and Perez did not help their case with their excuses.  Castillo gets “squeamish?”  You know what makes me squeamish?  Watching you try to catch a routine pop-up, Louie.  As for Perez, that is such a scripted Boras answer, it’s not even funny.  However, to play devil’s advocate, I do want to point out they didn’t HAVE to attend.  What I will say is…Luis.  There is this great saying and it goes like this: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Far be it for me to defend these guys though, but this is a non-issue, a story on an off-day that the press is all over.  The local press members don’t have to read several blogs to know that these three particular players are on the doo-doo list of most fans (not to mention the team’s management).  This was SO EASY to do.  Cast these guys is as unappealing light as possible, then let the vitriol commence.

This was a case of cheap and schlock journalism.  If we don’t see that, then we are part of the problem, too.

My friend Dave Singer over at NY Sports Dog possibly said it best today: the veterans at Walter Reed fought for personal freedom and choice.  Like it or not, Beltran, Castillo and Perez did what was within their rights.  Deal with it.

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