The beauty of spring training is that the ballparks are so cozy and intimate that you can hear conversations going in in the stands. That is also the curse. Marc Topkin of the St. Pete Times:
Rays manager Joe Maddon summoned security to remove a fan – wearing an Orioles jersey – who he said was yelling racist comments at CF B.J. Upton in the dugout duing Sunday’s game at Charlotte Sports Park.
“He said something racial and I didn’t like it,’’ Maddon said. “He can say whatever he wants, but don’t go there. And I didn’t want B.J. to go up into the stands or do anything at that point. So I just wanted to make sure he was taken out of there. There is no room for that at all.’’
A man who said he was the ejected fan went on Twitter later Sunday, claiming Maddon lied and he said nothing racial.
Topkin, however, reports that Maddon, Upton and multiple Rays’ coaches did too. I’m not exactly sure why Maddon would lie about such a thing. If you gave me a list of 300 major league managers and asked me which one would be most likely go after a rude but not racist heckler, I figure Maddon would be around my 299th or 300th choice. Say what you want about him, but being distracted by petty stuff is not really his m.o.
Everyone has First Amendment rights. Not everyone has carte blanche to exercise them to their fullest extent on private property. Good for Maddon for having a total jackwagon run out of the joint.
It’s can’t be easy being a Mets fan. Your team plays in the biggest city in America and should, theoretically, have big payrolls and always be in contention. They aren’t, however, partially because of horrendous luck and ill-timed injuries, partially because of poor baseball decisions and partially because the team’s ownership got taken down by a Ponzi scheme that, one would think anyway, sophisticated businessmen would recognize as a Ponzi scheme. We’ll leave that go, though.
What Mets fans are left with are (a) occasional windows of contention, such as we saw in 2014-16; (b) times of frustrating austerity on the part of ownership when, one would hope anyway, some money would be spent; (c) an inordinate focus on tabloidy and scandalous nonsense which just always seems to surround the club; and (c) a lot of disappointment.
You can file this latest bit under any of or many of the above categories, but it is uniquely Mets.
Team president Jeff Wilpon spoke to the press this afternoon about team payroll. In talking about payroll, David Wright‘s salary was included despite the fact that he may never play again and despite the fact that insurance is picking up most of the tab. Wilpon’s comment:
I’m guessing every team has a line item, someplace, about the costs of insurance. They’re businesses after all, and all businesses have to deal with that. They do not talk about it as a barrier to spending more money on players to the press, however, as they likely know that fans want to be told a story of hope and baseball-driven decisions heading into a new season and do not want to hear about all of the reasons the club will not spend any money despite sitting in a huge market.
This doesn’t change a thing about what the Mets were going to do or not do, but it does have the added bonus of making Mets fans roll their eyes and ask themselves what they did to deserve these owners. And that, more than almost anything, is the essence of Mets fandom these days.