Earlier this week, while the New York Mets were in the midst of winning seven out of 10 games and climbing in the standings, a New York Post reporter decided to take a jab at one of their players. Alluding to the recent pine tar controversy involving Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda, Mike Puma made a couple of fat jokes about Mets starter Bartolo Colon with “LARDBALL” as the headline. One might think the Mets, who have in the past decade fallen from powerhouse to laughing stock, might simply take its tabloid lumps. Or that, as some suggested, the Mets would think by August they’ll appreciate any back page coverage.
In a show of pride and solidarity, the Mets decided they would not speak to reporters until Mike Puma left their clubhouse. Once Puma was escorted out, Mets players spoke with the media in normal fashion. The team did not offer any comment on the matter.
An important show of self-respect
Aside from talk of sensitivity and political correctness, the reaction of the Mets players was an important display. With their quiet but pointed response, the Mets made an unspoken declaration: We’re through being the butt of the tabloids’ jokes. Criticize us, but don’t try to clown us. The Mets showed they’re not so desperate for back-page attention that they’ll take whatever they can get. Without tough-guy posturing or even an official statement. they showed the confidence and pride they’ll need to continue their return to respectability. They also showed they’re willing to come to the defense of teammates, including new arrivals.
Puma has since offered an apology, in the form of a self-effacing tweet, and fences appear to have been mended. The players’ response seems to have worked, and the tabloid media has been put on notice.
Mets no longer a punchline
At 15-11, the New York Mets have the most wins they’ve had in April since 2007, the last time they were considered a National League power. They’re quietly evolving into a solid team, and they’ve risen eight spots to 13th in this week’s ESPN MLB power rankings. They’re on pace to exceed general manager Sandy Alderson’s widely criticized preseason goal of 90 wins. They’re expecting more of themselves, and they’re expecting a reasonable professional standard from those who cover them. Please take your punchlines elsewhere.