The New York Mets and controversy. Over the last handful of years, they’ve gone hand in hand with one another; they’ve stuck together like white on rice. And over the past two days, a new controversy has taken over the team’s off-the-field headlines. A feud involving John Maine, Jerry Manuel, and Dan Warthen. It’s ugly, and it could signify a number of different things.
Just a quick debriefing for those of you who don’t know: John Maine was removed from his start Thursday night in Washington after just a 5 pitch walk to the Nationals leadoff hitter Nyjer Morgan. The reasons given for Maine’s removal: poor mechanics, and no velocity, barely eclipsing 80 MPH on his fastball. Jerry Manuel was visibly angry at Maine because he felt that Maine selfishly took the mound without revealing he wasn’t 100%. Maine disagreed, stating his lack of velocity was due to the fact that it was only the first batter of the game, and that as the game progressed he would’ve been fine. This led to a heated exchange in the dugout, as well as several negatively opinioned quotations for the morning papers, one which included Dan Warthen calling Maine a habitual liar when it comes to his health related issues because all Maine wants to do is go out and pitch every fifth day. At the apex of all this animosity, the Mets wound up placing Maine on the 15-day DL prior to last night’s game on account of right shoulder weakness. The Mets insist he’ll be seeing a doctor later in the week, despite Maine saying he is fine and doesn’t need to.
As if things weren’t bad enough right? I think the first thing that can be taken from all this is that John Maine needs to chiggity check himself before he wrecks himself as far as his attitude is concerned, though I think it’s already too late. Maine made multiple sarcastic comments about Manuel and Warthen assuming he wasn’t all right since they didn’t immediately see 95 MPH on the radar gun. He was visibly aggravated in the interview session and continuously kept on saying "Whatever, whatever…" Even during the SNY telecast of last night’s Subway Series game, every time the camera displayed Maine, he had an angry grimace on his face, just screaming of displeasure with the team. Where do these big egos come from between both him and Oliver Perez? First Ollie refuses to embarrass himself by heading to the minors out of self pride, now Maine thinks he has the right to openly question Jerry Manuel’s decisions in the papers? Neither of these guys have been good for the Mets in year, so neither one of them has the right to have such a big ego. Maybe it comes with playing in the Big Apple? I don’t know, but whatever it is, neither one of these "pitchers" has any right to be so egotistic, and I’m disappointed in Jerry Manuel for allowing them to behave like they have.
This brings me to my second thought. With Maine’s prolonged bashing of Manuel and his decision, it appears that any respect he had for the manager is now gone. This situation is reminiscent of the June 2008 firing of Willie Randolph. It looked back then as if the Met players had given up on their manager then, and if Maine’s attitude towards Jerry is anything resembling the way the other players feel presently, well then it’s probably time for Jerry to go. If Jerry isn’t respected in the clubhouse, and the players are just going to lie down and not perform to the best of their ability just because he’s in the managing role, then the Mets have to go – most likely within the organization itself – and find a manager that is respected by every member of the team. If the Mets decide to fire Manuel, I hope this time around they do it in a more civilized way, and not fire him at midnight Pacific Time, one day into a west coast road trip, coming off 2 straight wins. The Mets go on the road next week to Milwaukee and San Diego, so here’s hoping nothing like 2008 goes down.
And if Manuel winds up getting let go, how about some of his coaches go with him, preferably Howard Johnson – which is a topic I’ll delve deeper into on Sunday. I’m on the fence on whether or not Warthen should receive his walking papers as well, is it really his fault garbage-like guys like Maine and Perez have been as poor as they’ve been? To his credit, he has totally turned Mike Pelfrey into a respectable starting pitcher again. But one thing he needs a crash course on is what he can and cannot say to the New York media. Calling Maine a habitual liar? That’s a no-no. It was obvious watching the interview that he meant it in a nice way, but it still seems a little disrespectful, and Maine probably took it that way. Why say anything of this nature at all? Don’t call him a name Dan. Even though he doesn’t deserve a ton of respect due to his ego, the fire is big enough with all of the hostility between Manuel and Maine, there’s no need to add fuel to that fire. But of course, what’s done is done, and the Mets have yet again made another controversial situation worse through the media (see the Tony Bernazard/Omar Minaya/Adam Rubin fiasco from 2009).
And finally, what exactly is the matter with John’s arm? He says he’s fine, the coaches say otherwise. He says he has no need for a doctor, the coaches say he’ll see one regardless. I mean, why isn’t everyone on the same page here? Does Maine know his own body? Do the doctors think they know it better? Right shoulder weakness, poor mechanics, these are vague explanations in my book. Can someone please tell me point blank, what’s wrong with John Maine, which side is right, and why doesn’t the other one see things the same way? You’re either hurt or you’re not, and this divide between the Mets coaches/medical staff and John Maine himself is very disturbing. But it’s also a typical situation the Mets seem to find themselves in. The organization never seems to be on the same page regarding anything, so why should this be any different…