11.29.05

Matthews On Carlos D’s Flip-Flop

Posted in Baseball at 7:58 am by


(Flushing’s new company man imagines Wally Matthews pitching batting practice without a safety net)

Newly acquired Mets 1B Carlos Delgado is in a bit of a quandry. Were he to continue his ongoing protest against the Iraq War by refusing to stand during the Sunday playing of “God Bless America”, he risks the ire of his new bosses, and some portion of the yack radio corps. By agreeing to take part in this dubious patriotic display, Delgado is now labelled a sell-out by Newsday’s Wallace Matthews.

In 1966, Muhammad Ali refused to submit to the draft and fight in a war he opposed on religious grounds. That decision cost Ali nearly four years of his athletic prime and countless millions.

Nearly 40 years later, Carlos Delgado, with more than $40 million guaranteed him over the next four seasons, has been faced with a choice not nearly so gut-wrenching and with none of the consequences that confronted Ali.

He could continue the silent protest he had begun as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays and continued during his one season as a Florida Marlin, in which he would slip away to the clubhouse while his teammates stood for the playing of “God Bless America.”

Or, if he wanted to fit in with the Mets, he could swallow his convictions and stand like everyone else.

Delgado chose the latter.

“Fred has asked and I’ve asked him to respect what the country wants to do,” said Mets senior executive vice president and first son Jeff Wilpon, who must not read the front of the newspaper. “If the team rule is everybody stands for ‘God Bless America,’ he’s going to stand. We told him we would like it if he did.”

The official line of Mets thinking is that to allow Delgado to continue his protest would create “a distraction” on the team. Delgado was asked yesterday if that was the case in Toronto or Florida.

“Not at all,” he replied. “It was never an issue.”

And yet, here, in a city that considers itself the most sophisticated in the country, if not the world, it seems as if conformity ranks second only to offensive production. “If you hit, they’re gonna like you,” Delgado said. “If you don’t hit, they’re gonna boo.”

No matter how well he performs as a Met, he already is less than he could have been.

8 Responses to “Matthews On Carlos D’s Flip-Flop”

  1. Marc says:

    So instead of writers writing (and talk show hosts talking) about how Delgado won’t stand for God Bless America and thus causing a distraction, those same writers and talk show hosts are going to cause a distraction by discussing endlessly how Carlos is standing up? Gotcha.

    When he drives in the winning runs the first time and Wagner closes the game out, not one Mets fan is going to care if he’s sitting on a unicycle for the national anthem while juggling bowling pins.

  2. David Roth says:

    As a Mets fan, speaking personally, I’d be really impressed if he was able to do that.

    Also: sports punditry. Man, that’s good stuff.

  3. Marc says:

    I’m going to be really impressed if he can drive in the winning runs too! That is something Dougie Alphabet and the rest of the revolving firstbase cast couldn’t seem to do most of last season.

  4. CSTB says:

    Matthews is cut from a somewhat different cloth than most of his colleagues. He usually places a premium on someone taking a principled stand, and of all the writers to criticize Delgado for giving in, he’s one of the most likely.

    And as much as I like kidding around about this, I do pretty much agree with him. What Delgado did for the past 2 seasons took real guts in an absolutely hysterical climate…though granted, Toronto’s far less hysterical. I found his comments yesterday disappointing, but I’m not the one who has to watch out for flying batteries.

  5. David Roth says:

    I don’t know Matthews’ stuff that well — it’s not like I get my sports information from sources other than this one — but my initial displeasure with what he wrote was just a response to its negativity. The constant ripping on/of athletes is lowest common denominator stuff, and I hate it, while this is less distasteful to me (probably because I agree with the writer) than the criticism that would’ve come from the NY Post’s sports page, which manages to be just as know-nothing right-wing as the rest of the paper. Matthews can be right, but I feel more generally that there’s an overabundance of (carping, negative) opinions on sports pages as is. Quite frankly.

    But while I agree with Delgado’s positions — against the war, against US bombing in Vieques, against the designated hitter — I don’t think this was a weak move on his part — in large part because, for most of us, doing what the bosses ask is pretty much the way things go. So changing his position may not be as strong as refusing to stand, but not as weak as Jeff Wilpon and the organization putting pressure on him. Ultimately, it’s symbolic: he’ll continue to do good deeds in Puerto Rico (where he basically built a hospital, then linked it via satellite to Boston’s Children’s Hospital, enabling it to do more complicated surgeries), and he’ll do whatever else he feels he needs to do about the war. I was also a little disappointed by him backing down on this, but a symbolic compromise isn’t the same as actually ceasing to have and voice an opinion (something only right-wing buttheads like Stanton and metal-libertarians like Piazza seem comfortable doing). And he’s still the most interesting Met since… well, Pedro, but before that I don’t even know. Bill Pecota?

  6. CSTB says:

    You weren’t fascinated by banjo-picking/bow-hunting enthusiast Matt Ginter, David?

  7. Xa says:

    Delgado rode his bicycle to games at Skydome.

    That is almost more significant than his public display in the 7th.

    I’ll stand behind him, and not just because I like his butt.

  8. CSTB says:

    that’s nuthin’, I heard Robbie Alomar once took the stairs to a game at Skydome.

    Though the elevator was broken

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