Welcome to the Queens Zoo, Again

I swear, the Mets as an organization are starting to look more and more like the Yankees at the height of Steinbrennerian drama. Which is not a good thing for Mets fans.

The recent tempest in a teapot over who did and didn’t show up at Walter Reed is a good example. For the uninitiated, during the Mets’ recent road trip to Washington, most of the team paid a visit to wounded veterans at Walter Reed Hospital. They apparently do this every year – bu t this year nearly all of the team (including the September callups!) came. The only exceptions were Dillon Gee, due to make his Major League pitching debut that evening, and Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, and Oliver Perez, each of whom has had various issues with both the team or parts of the fan base.

Cue the Tabloids! A whole lot of disk space and network bandwidth were consumed with varying degrees of outrage and speculation over nefarious motives of the absentee players, and rumors that the owners were quite displeased. Never mind that in years prior, there were many more absent from the visit. Never mind that the visit was voluntary.

But it’s New York, this silliness is to be expected. Mike Lupica will be a sanctimonious prat, always looking to entertain himself with the sound of his own voice. The New York Post will look for any excuse to get people riled up over trivialities, as will the yakkers on WFAN. Owner Fred Wilpon, having been involved with this team since 1980, ought to know this by now.

So why didn’t he, or his son Jeff, the team’s Chief Operating Officer, make sure that if they were angry that Beltran, Castillo, and Perez skipped the Walter Reed Visit, make sure that things were handled internally? If they were expected to go, why didn’t they (quietly) make it mandatory? Why did they throw three players who they are reportedly trying to trade under the bus, thus lowering their trade value? Do they hold a grudge against Carlos Beltran, much like Steinbrenner did against Dave Winfield?

If handled right, this story could have been about a bunch of baseball players doing good. Instead, the Mets got more drama in a season with far too much of it. To quote Metstradamus, “Only in Flushing can a charitable endeavor become controversial.”. It may be 2010 in Flushing, but it sure does feel like the Bronx in the ’80s these days in Mets Nation.

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