Mets’ acting GM Zack Scott agitated by rat-raccoon drama

Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Mets acting general manager Zack Scott wasn’t thrilled by Francisco Lindor‘s fuzzy explanation for a dugout dispute.

Scott said it was “unfortunate” that Lindor and teammate Jeff McNeil attempted to dismiss their dustup by bizarrely claiming they were arguing over a critter spotted in the clubhouse tunnel – Lindor said it was a rat, McNeil’s story was that it was a raccoon or possum.

The disagreement happened out of view of television cameras, but New York’s broadcast showed other players and coaches rushing into the tunnel to break up some sort of commotion.

“You’d have to ask the players why they chose to handle it that way,” Scott said. “Not how I’d go (about it). I think what’s unfortunate is it’s a little bit of a bigger story than it needs to be and it takes away from one of our best wins of the year. That was a great win last night.”

Lindor homered a half-inning after the exchange, keying a 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“The rat or possum story is something that our guys were talking about early this afternoon,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said.

The apparent clash between Lindor and McNeil came a half-inning after they miscommunicated on an infield single by Nick Ahmed. Both players appeared sullen over the next few innings before offering smiles during separate postgame video conferences with reporters in which they insisted their beef was over rodents, and not slow rollers.

Neither Scott or manager Luis Rojas confirmed the exact parameters of the argument.

“Certainly it’s something that they didn’t want to get into too much detail about, so I respect that and know kind of the code of the clubhouse,” Scott said. “The one thing I’ll just say generally is not specific to the situation but just broadly – these guys are competitive. They want to win. They are like a family.

“They spend so much time together and sometimes, like a family, there’s disputes and debates and arguments. At the end of the day you go out there and grind out a great win and you walk way still brothers.”

The Mets’ comeback from a four-run deficit was their biggest of the season.

“Today we’re a better ballclub and we’re a better family,” Rojas said. “That’s how I see the events that happened yesterday, just after talking to both players and talking to the group.”

McNeil homered in the third inning Saturday. Lindor, waiting on deck, greeted him near home plate with a low-five.

While Scott hoped to move on from the viral vermin story, the entertainment team at Citi Field leaned into it. Shortly before first pitch Saturday night, a new quiz game debuted on the scoreboard, asking fans “Rat or Raccoon?”

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.