While Bobby Bonilla infamously offered to show Bob Klapisch the Bronx, the Bergen Record columnist uses his ESPN.com space Wednesday to show newly acquired Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez a big vial of Calm The Fuck Down pills.
Klapisch claims Rodriguez’ over the top theatrics are considered so distasteful, Mariano Rivera asked to be kept as far away as possible from his fellow reliever at last July’s All-Star Game. “If Rivera took exception to K-Rod’s two-handed point to the skies, imagine how the rest of the National League will feel about it in 2009,” warns Klapisch. “The Mets already have an image problem with the Phillies, and their new bullpen savior isn’t likely to improve matters.”
K-Rod’s celebrating profile will be layered atop Jose Reyes’ customized high-fiving after scoring an important run in a big game — outside the dugout. Such gloating, which has been part of the Mets’ legacy since the ’80s, has been steadily irritating opponents for the past four years.
But unlike the 1986 club, as arrogant as it was successful, the latter-day Mets have collapsed in the past two Septembers — choked, just as Hamels says. They’ve yet to win a pennant since the miniature renaissance began in 2006, despite an influx of marquee talent and the ballooning of the payroll over $130 million.
Without citing Reyes in particular, Manuel copped to the Mets’ immaturity. Indeed, one baseball executive said, “If you don’t think [the celebrating] has any consequence, then why does a team like the Marlins always love to stick it to the Mets?”
The implied answer, of course, is that the Marlins — who, despite being out of the playoff race, denied the Mets a playoff berth in the final weekends of the 2007 and 2008 seasons — were paying the Mets back for their showboating sins.
What happens, say, the first time K-Rod strikes out Ryan Howard to nail down a Mets victory at Citizens Bank Park? You don’t have to ask — Rodriguez will have his guns (OK, index fingers) blazing toward the heavens. It’ll certainly light the fuse, which, sooner or later in the summer, figures to ignite a fire.
While Klapisch might be correct in suggesting the Mets have an abundance of swagger for a team that hasn’t been to a World Series since Bill Clinton was President, surely Bob would agree New York’s blown save problem was of greater concern than an image problem. If the name of the game was making opponents happy, Omar Minaya would’ve made a deal for Eric Gagne.