One Of The Strangest Years A Professional Athlete Can Have
A couple mornings ago I received a slew of text messages in rapid succession. They were all about the tweet released by FOX’s Ken Rosenthal and Jordany Valdespin’s 50-game suspension.
At first, I felt bad. My dark horse in 2013 added a new chapter entitled “PEDs” into the comedic novella he’s called a career. The one I called El Dramático for his propensity to pimp long home runs and throw tantrums when things didn’t follow the script had seemingly drawn his last straw.
Then I felt indifferent. Let’s face it. His stock was plummeting faster than Matt Garza’s Twitter followers. His days in New York were numbered anyway.
On a whole, I felt good Major League Baseball finally cracked down on athletes besmirching the game of baseball. I’m sick of listening to PEDs discussions and it’s about time players were held accountable.
After I visited both sides of the emotional spectrum, all I could think about was the bizarre year Valdespin’s had in general. What started out as a prospect poised to showcase his talent this season, turned into a six-month odyssey that often fell outside any reasonable verisimilitude. I hope Alex Rodriguez is sending thank you cards to Valdespin for carrying some of the load in New York.
In honor of our fallen compañero, let’s reminisce about the season El Hombre has had. In reality, we’ll probably never see him in a Mets uniform again.
March 11, 2013 vs. Detroit Tigers
During a Spring Training game, Valdespin launched a home run off Justin Verlander over the right-field wall. Then after a ground out, Valdespin stepped in against Verlander and took a 94-mph fastball right in the cojones. When media asked where the ball hit him, in throwback fashion, Valdespin answered, “My manhood.” No damage was done, which has now led many to jest that his grapes were actually raisins…
April 24, 2013 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
In a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the 10th inning, Valdespin faced Josh Wall with the bases juiced. With one out, all Valdespin needed to do was hit a deep fly ball to win the game. On a 2-1 pitch, he did just that and ended up winning the game on a walk-off grand slam. As Valdespin does with most home runs, he strolled down the line holding his bat out as if the bat boy was going to rush out and grab it before he rounded first. Unfortunately, the story didn’t end there. John Buck smacked Valdespin in the face with a pie during a postgame interview so hard that the impact could have been heard in San Pedro de Macoris and for all the wrong reasons; many were furiously talking about the Latin enigma.
May 7, 2013 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Let’s set the scene: bottom of the ninth, one out and Valdespin steps into the box to pinch-hit against veteran reliever Jose Contreras. Contreras quickly falls behind Valdespin and on a 2-0 pitch, JV1 swings out of his shoes, flings his left leg back behind home plate, cranks one deep into the Pepsi Porch AND THE METS…cut the lead to five. We all remember Valdespin taking a second to admire his work and then staring defiantly into his own dugout.
The next day, manager Terry Collins sent Valdespin up to pinch-hit fully armored, much to Valdespin’s chagrin, knowing he’d get drilled. Low and behold, Pirates reliever Bryan Morris obliged Collins and plunked Valdespin. What ensued was a week-long media frenzy that still lingers with every mention of the Dominican utilityman.
July 13, 2013
During a demotion to Triple-A, a volatile Valdespin allegedly called Collins a “c—sucker.” The incident happened after a 4-2 loss to the Pirates and left a teary-eyed Valdespin wondering, “How could this possibly be happening to the man right now?” Valdespin was reported to have tried inventing an injury to land on the DL, but instead was relegated to the Las Vegas 51s with only a strained left ego muscle. He left the Mets with a .188 batting average, four home runs, 16 RBIs and a chip on his shoulder.
July 29, 2013 vs. Sacramento River Cats
Valdespin got the start at second base for the Las Vegas 51s. He hit a three-run bomb in the third inning and subsequently got plunked later in the game. In retribution, 51s pitcher Armando Rodriguez hit River Cats second baseman Grant Green and the benches cleared. The aftermath was the ejection of Rodriguez, Valdespin and both managers. ‘Spin was then sentenced to a three-game suspension. He hit .466/.537/.759 with three home runs and 24 RBIs in 16 games for Las Vegas.
August 5, 2013
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 5, 2013
That brings us to Monday. At 9:33 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, Ken Rosenthal single-handedly caused my Twitter feed to erupt into orange-and-blue bedlam. He took Mets fans by surprise when he mentioned Valdespin would be one of two Mets players to serve a 50-game suspension. The other was the more obvious Cesar Puello.
Valdespin has now been suspended by two different baseball leagues in the same week, a feat I never thought possible, and will try for the cycle in 2014.
I’m not sure how to feel about El Dramático anymore. To be honest, I, like many others, have sort of detached myself. He could feasibly play for the Mets in the last few games of the season. By then we’ll know if the Mets have a shot. If he does play, fans will either cascade him with heaps of heckling or pray that he has one more dramatic at-bat to save the season. My money is on the former.
About the Author: Daniel Nelson
Daniel Nelson is an editor for Mets Merized and a senior at San Francisco State University majoring in Journalism and minoring in Economics. He was born in Fair Lawn, New Jersey where he grew up watching the Mets. Daniel was also the recipient of the 2013/2014 Otto J. Bos Memorial Scholarship, the largest scholarship the SF State journalism department has to offer. You can follow him on Twitter @pacific_theme
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