The Mets are imploding

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The losses are bad enough — New York has dropped nine of twelve games and have gone from a half-game down on June 27th to 6.5 down as of this morning — but now the clubhouse is starting to get ugly:

Alex Cora is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

The veteran utilityman, miffed by the laughter inside the Mets’ clubhouse after last night’s 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, fired venom in the direction of Mike Pelfrey and reporters who were joking at the pitcher’s locker.

Cora spouted an expletive in Spanish and raised his voice in the direction of Pelfrey and re porters as he de parted the clubhouse at Chase Field.

“A little respect, please!” Cora snapped. “They stuck it up our [butts].”

I imagine that, in light of this little outburst, people will start saying that the Mets’ chemistry was somehow disrupted recently, be it because Carlos Beltran came back or Oliver Perez is hanging around or Jeff Francoeur was benched or whatever.  Don’t buy it.

Cora’s little outburst is about a team that probably only figured to be .500 to begin with crashing back to Earth, not about some disruption in The Force or bad eggs or anything else.  It’s textbook “only winning teams have good chemistry” stuff, and it wouldn’t be rearing its head right now if the team were still winning.

Pelfrey’s laughter isn’t the problem. It’s his dead arm.  Bad chemistry isn’t hurting this team. Bad play is.  It’s that simple.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.