By Lenn Robbins
This is a tale of two sluggers, as different as the teams for which they play.
Giancarlo Stanton, who missed the bulk of the last season with an assortment of injuries, has returned in magnificent fashion, conjuring up memories of when he was among the most fear power hitters in the game with the Florida Marlins.
Yeonis Cespedes, who missed the bulk of the last two season with an assortment of injuries, including a losing tangle with a wild boar, has opted out due to coronavirus concerns, thus ending a bad baseball soap opera.
“It’s disappointing,” Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said on a Zoom call Sunday afternoon following the team’s 4-0 loss. The Mets lost for the fifth straight time and dropped to 3-7, four games out of first in the NL East with one-sixth of the season complete.
Cespedes remained consistent to the end – a spoiled brat. The Mets became alarmed when Cespedes did not show up at Truist Park in Atlanta earlier in the day. Van Wagenen sent a security detail to the player’s hotel room. The team then released a statement stating that Cespedes was missing in the hopes he’d make contact. By the time Van Wagenen spoke to reporters after the game, Cespedes’s team had informed the Mets he was opting out.
He couldn’t even end his Mets career by doing the decent thing and informing the Mets he was opting out before the game; couldn’t go to the stadium and say adios to teammates and coaches. When asked if the Mets would remain in contact with Cespedes, who was batting .161 with two home runs, four RBI and an OPS of .622, Van Wagenen had this to say:
“No player that leaves the organization is out of sight, out of mind.”
To which we can only ask, “Are you out of your mind?!”
The Mets do not want to have anything to do with this anti-Stanton, which we hope Van Wagenen is smart enough to know. He was professional in explaining what went down with Cespedes. Hopefully, Van Wagenen was thinking, “Good riddance. We don’t have to pay the guy another penny.”
Every time a Mets player pulls a stunt like this it reinforces the perception that they are the Triple A team in this market and Yankees are the major league franchise. Yankees don’t break their ankle trying to avoid a boar on their Florida ranch, especially when they’re rehabbing from double heel surgery. Yankees honor the tradition.
Take Stanton for example. After getting just 59 at-bats last season, Stanton arrived leaner and ready to play. Going into Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox, Stanton was batting .348 with two home runs, six RBI and a gaudy 1.160 OPS.
After Stanton opened the season with a monster home run in the Yankee’s opener and Cespedes followed suit the next day in the Mets’ opener, it set the stage for each to challenge for Comeback Player of the Year. Cespedes is gone and Stanton keeps going.
It’s a tale of two franchises. The Yankees went into the Red Sox game on a five-game win streak. They’re in first place in the AL East with a 6-1 record, the best in baseball. The Mets are falling dangerously out of contention, even with 16 teams making the postseason.
Stanton is hitting. Aaron Judge is on a four-game home run streak. Gary Sanchez finally got his first hit of the season in Saturday night’s 5-2 win over Boston. In the Yankees final spring training 2.0 exhibition game, Stanton allowed himself to think about a lineup featuring those three sluggers.
“It’s unreal, unmatched in the league if we could all stay out there,’’ he told reporters. “We definitely know what we are capable of. It’s just a matter of putting it out there.’’
DEFENSE?: In the span of one week the Jets have lost their two best defensive players. Middle linebacker C.J. Mosley reportedly has decided to opt out this season due to family health reasons. That follows the Jamal Adams trade to the Seahawks.
Mosley’s surprise decision makes the Adams trade look even better. The Jets got two 1st-round picks, a 3rd-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald. As good a player as Mosley is, if he returns in 2021 he will have missed almost the entire last two seasons. Linebacker could be another area of need for Gang Green.
DUTCH BOY: Kudos to Hofstra guard Desure Buie of the Bronx who signed a pro contract with ZZ Leiden, which plays in the first division of the Dutch Basketball League.
“We are so thrilled for Desure as he embarks on his professional career,” said Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich “Desure’s career at Hofstra is legendary and we couldn’t be happier that he is beginning the next phase of his basketball journey with such a strong team with incredible leadership and success. He will be an asset to ZZ Leiden and we look forward to watching his outstanding professional career develop.”
Buie, who helped lead Hofstra to back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association titles, finished his career at the Hempstead university as career with 141 games played, 18th in scoring (1,310), fourth in assists (548), and sixth in steals (203). He e earned his BA in linguistics with a minor in fine arts in 2019 and followed that up by earning his master’s degree in higher education leadership and policy studies in 2020.