Drama Queen Vs. Hack, a first-hand report from the New York Daily News’ despicable Mike Lupica(above).
Now it is sometime around noon in the Mets clubhouse and there are players and media people everywhere, rain falling outside. I have been talking for 20 minutes with Tom Glavine, about golf and the Final Four and his Opening Day start. Glavine, who still thinks he might get to pitch against the Marlins at this point, who has been told the rain may stop around 2 o’clock, walks off. Billy Wagner is in front of his locker listening to music, probably not the radio.
I turn around and Pedro is there.
Then he is right into it, full windup, saying that I had written something “personal” about him and that I don’t know him well enough to do that, and how can I talk about “panorama” with him when I don’t know what’s inside his head or his heart?
I realize now he’s talking about the column from a month ago.
“Drama,” I say. “I used the word drama. I said you were always a great drama.”
That was being proved out now, of course, in the middle of the clubhouse, players watching from couches and from in front of their lockers, television sets still on. I told him I would be happy to take this conversation out into the hall, without the audience. But he was, at least at the start of it, clearly playing to the crowd. He is Pedro.
He said he had read “between the lines” that I didn’t think he was hurt when he talked about his sore toe on March 4 in Port St. Lucie, telling the writers, “As of now, I’m not a question (for Opening Day). As of now.”
“You’re wrong,” I said. “You don’t have to believe that and you can walk away thinking I’m full of it, but you’re wrong.”
Nobody in our business ever wants to be this kind of show in a team’s clubhouse. It had happened once before with a Met, the young and hotheaded Darryl Strawberry at old Huggins-Stengel Field in St. Petersburg, before the Mets moved to Port St. Lucie, Strawberry telling me to stay out of his personal life. It turned out Strawberry was yelling that day about a column somebody had written about him in another paper.
Another time, Eddie Lee Whitson called me out in the Yankee clubhouse. That time we did go out in the hall, even if I could see Don Mattingly’s head poking out of the clubhouse door every few minutes, probably checking to see if I was still alive. Players have a right to get their say, even when it’s loud, a right not to like what’s written about them. But it sure is a lot easier for them to have the debate on their turf.
Pedro wasn’t going anywhere, he does what he wants, it’s part of him being Pedro. Part of the drama.
I don’t know how long it went on, the two of us a few feet apart. He kept talking about the power of the press and this imagined attack on his integrity and I kept telling him the column wasn’t about that, because it wasn’t. The more it went on, the more professional it became, less like some silly ballpark version of “Crossfire.” One more show without a second act.
It started to wind down finally. We shook hands a couple of times. Still playing to the crowd, he said, “I apologizeif I misunderstood.”
Maybe he just plans to take on everybody this year, the Yankees, the National League, everybody. For a few minutes yesterday it was a sportswriter. With him, even a small crowd will do.
There’s nothing accidental about Lupica evoking the names of a chronic fuck-up (Straw) and an overly sensitive pitcher who is best remembered for his inability to handle the pressures of New York (Whitson). While Martinez has a long history of turning snubs, perceived or real, into motivation, Lupica shouldn’t be too surprised at being called out. Frankly, he oughta be glad that anyone is still reading his stuff.
The premature chants of “MVP” are echoing through Shea Stadium at this writing ; David Wright’s 2 RBI triple broke up Dontrelle Willis’ shutout bid in the bottom of the 7th, as the Mets and Marlins are tied at 2-2.
(ADDENDUM : Mets 3, Marlins 2.
Carlos Beltran scored on David Wright’s 9th inning sacrifice fly to right field. It would be interesting to hear why Florida manager Joe Girardi opted to have Carlos Martinez pitch to Wright rather than issue an intentional walk, setting up a force at any base with Xavier Nady coming up with no outs. Though it’s pretty likely the Mets still would’ve scored, which part of learning under Joe Torre covers not giving your club every chance to win?)