As today’s game unraveled for the Mets in the seventh the topic of leadership was brought out by broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez.
Manager Terry Collins, of course, apologized for Cespedes, calling him “as a good a left fielder as there is in the game and he has a Gold Glove to show for it,’’ but the bottom line is if Cespedes hustled he wouldn’t have been put in the position where he had to reach for the ball.
Lack of hustle earlier played a role in the third when Dee Gordon’s shallow pop fly fell in front of Cespedes. Cohen called out Cespedes, saying he doesn’t dive or slide for balls, stemming from when he hurt his right hip in a mid-July game against Colorado.
What Cohen didn’t say is had Cespedes hustled against the Rockies he wouldn’t have had to make an awkward slide that injured his hip.
Cespedes recovered to get Adam Conley on a force play at second. Gordon, however, quickly stole second and scored on Yelich’s single off Wilmer Flores’ glove. Safe to say Conley, the pitcher, wouldn’t have done the same.
The topic turned to the lack of veteran leadership after Cespedes’ error in the seventh. While some players – like David Wright – develop into vocal leaders, I maintain ALL players have leadership potential regardless of their personalities.
Leadership comes from the basic concept of doing your job so your teammates know they can rely on you. That means knowing your responsibility on every play, whether at the plate or in the field. That means hustling on every play, not when the mood strikes. It means running out every grounder.
It means knowing your opponent. It wasn’t an error, but Amed Rosario can’t take his time throwing to first when Gordon is the runner. Leadership also comes from taking accountability, which is what Rosario did.
“I got a little overconfident on that play,’’ Rosario said, referring to his habit of double-pumping before throwing. “I take 100 percent (responsibility). I’m learning from every play. This will teach me not do that in the future.’’
A lot was made about Rosario’s play, but deGrom wouldn’t pile on, despite being visibly frustrated and putting him arms up. One could understand if deGrom lost his concentration on the pitch to Stanton.
“I don’t think so,’’ deGrom said, then demonstrated what being a leader is all about when he pointed the finger at himself.
“I can’t show my emotions like that. He plays hard so I don’t think it will happen again. That’s on me, I made a bad pitch. I have to do a better job.’’
DeGrom did what leaders do, which is assume responsibility. He knows that as a pitcher, that regardless of what happens behind him, he’s still responsible for throwing the next pitch. He also recognized nothing can be gained by throwing a rookie under the bus.
DeGrom’s day was done after that pitch, but not the Mets’ poor play. The next batter, Yelich, lifted a lazy fly to left, and after Cespedes’ error, ended up on second where he scored on Marcell Ozuna’s single.
Cespedes drove in two runs with a homer and double, but gave them back with his poor hustle and defense.
There are 40 games remaining in this lost season and much is made about exposing the young players to how the game is played on the major league level. Today they learned a lesson about leadership from both deGrom and Cespedes.
From deGrom’s words after the game and Cespedes’ actions during it.