My brother, a die hard Yankee fan, made a statement last weekend that stuck with me. He said, "If the Mets lose this series, and I have pledged to root for them despite being a Yankee fan, I will never root for them again, ever." I sort of laughed, but he's right. I always root for the team who I feel hasn't had the chance to get to the Series in a number of years. So, I rooted for the Cubs and then I rooted for the Dodgers and then I rooted for the Mets. In the American League, I rooted for Houston and then I rooted for the Royals. But when it came down to the Mets vs. the Royals, I got my New York On and just bit the bullet. I rooted for the Mets.
I figured it would be a good Series not just because of the hype, the hitting, the Daniel Murphy Show, the pitching, the Noah Syndergaard Show or even the stick-to-it-ness that each team had all post season. No, not just for all of that, but something more. It was the team leadership I saw in the eyes and actions of Terry Collins and Ned Yost and how important this is to the rise and fall of teams throughout the baseball long season.
As I watched Game 5, I shook my head in disbelief as I saw what has become common place in classrooms and living rooms across this country. I saw pouting and lip service from a player to a manager and pitching coach. I saw Matt Harvey whine to his team leadership when they told him he was done for the evening after throwing over a hundred pitches. "cameras caught Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen appearing to tell Harvey his night was over. Harvey's response? "No way." After repeating it again, he headed over to manager Terry Collins and said it again. "No way."
Though Harvey gave up a run before he was pulled by Collins and the Mets had another disastrous late-inning collapse, the moment will sit well with die-hards who questioned the starter and the controversy stirred up by all that talk about his innings limit," reported NJ.com the morning after the Mets' lost the game ending series. I don't blame Harvey. He is a certified prima donna. No, I blame Mets team leadership for not sticking with their gut and their experience in the game. The pitcher was done; it doesn't matter if he is multi-million dollar Scott Boras pitcher Matt Harvey or if he is a minor league newbie. Done is done.
I also blame Mets team leadership for leaving in Yoenis Cespedes in after he was injured "Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes fouled a ball off his left knee in the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 5 against Kansas City Royals' starter Edinson Volquez Sunday night, dropping to the ground for over a minute as he shook off the pain. "Oh mercy" - Harold Reynolds commentates as Yoenis collapses into a heap," reports NJ.com. He then flied out to the shortstop with the bases loaded. Collins, it's the World Series. Cespedes is hurt and frankly has not provided much to help the team in the Series. Take him out! Another bad decision, which lead to the Mets' unraveling and loss of the World Series.
On the flip side, you have the gritty management of Ned Yost, who enabled his players to play fearlessly, taking risks around every turn. That's why Eric Hosmer sprinted for home to tie the game in the ninth inning forcing Lucas Duda to rush and make a bad throw to the plate. If I were Collins, I would have anticipated this and walked the next batter to set up the double play or as David Wright, I would have just held onto the ball. As a team leader, Wright should have known better. KC history this season and last says he's running.
How important is team leadership to the outcome of a game, a World Series? It's everything. From player leadership to dugout leadership to front office leadership, they are all valuable and they are all equally important. The Mets lost because, frankly, their leadership did not step up when it was needed. Next season, beside finding some great pitchers, we better be looking for leadership who can carry us through and handle the prima donnas, the press and the day to day drama both on and off the field.
--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist
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