By Lenn Robbins
If we’re being honest, I’ve got more than a bit of “old school” in me.
One-on-one basketball is unwatchable. Excessive celebrating after a goal is irritating. Failing to run out a grounder or pop up, Lord, that makes the blood run hot.
Thanks to the Mets, there was a sense of, what – appreciation, vindication, celebration – when the club benched Amed Rosario for turning a double into a single by not running out a pop to the outfield. The ball dropped between outfielders and the loafing Rosario was on first when a hustling Rosario should have been on second.
And the Mets, arguable the feel-worst story in baseball, gave us a reason to feel good.
They took a stand. They sent a message. They benched Rosario for most of Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Marlins.
Yes, the Mets, who have gotten almost everything wrong, got it right.
“I think that some of that stuff that we do internally needs to stay with us, but I think Rosie knows some of the reasons why he didn’t play today,” manager Mickey Callaway told SNY.
“And more than anything I want to see [Adeiny Hechavarria] out there. I want to get Hech going, he’s been swinging the bat well, all the other stuff is stuff that needs to be done sometimes.”
Stuff is not always stuff, and surely Callaway knows this.
Managers and coaches have to walk a fine line these days when disciplining an athlete. Punishment considered too harsh can alienate a players. A lack of discipline can start a corrosive process that eats away at a franchise’s foundation.
“[Rosario] does a heck of a job, he always hustles,” Callaway told reporters. “The one time he didn’t, the ball drops and he should have been on second base. That is a learning lesson for him. But this guy works every single day and he’s made strides in every single part of his game. I’m happy with Rosie.”
The one argument with that statement is this: No athlete wearing a professional team’s uniform should need a lesson in hustling. That’s what Little League, Pop Warner, etc., is for.
“I think I got caught up in the emotion of popping out,” Rosario said. “It wasn’t the best decision to make.”
OK. Callaway gets it. Rosario gets it. Here’s the next challenge, not just for the Mets but every pro franchise: Do you dare discipline a star for not hustling?
There wasn’t a ton of risk in sitting Rosario. He earns $575,500. But the last time the Mets played the Marlins in Florida, Robinson Cano failed to run hard on several plays. There was no discipline. Cano earns $24 million.
Maybe this is too ‘old school’ thinking but wouldn’t it be impressive if any franchise sat a star that hadn’t hustled?