First, let me start by stating that my father raised me a fortunate New York Giants football fan and an unfortunate New York Mets fan. Growing up in Rutland, Vt. I was very limited in how many games I could watch. I think it was channel 11,back when you only had 13 channels and had to get up and change the tv by turning a dial. Back then a child was actually the remote control before there were remote controls. Instead of pressing a button, your father, or in my case grandfather would simply say: “Keith, change the channel to 5”. Anyway, back then I can recall the late, great Ralph Kiner calling games with Tim McCarver, before McCarver would go on to do games nationally and be ridiculously crucified by the media and fan base for how “awful” he was as a color commentator. Just to now realize how great he was during this age of Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci on Fox. Back then though, I would see Gary Carter, Ron Darling, Daryl Strawberry, Kevin McReynolds, Howard Johnson, the amazing and unfortunately short lived greatness of Dwight Gooden, and my favorite, Keith Hernandez. Keith now more famous for his role on Seinfeld, but people don’t realize how great he was as a first baseman. Those were truly special years. Unfortunately there were only a few of them and I was a whole 8, 9, and 10 years old at the time.
Flash Forward to 2015.
This year, the New York Mets were coming off their 8th consecutive year of not making the playoffs and 6th year of sub .500 performance. In the 80’s I watched drugs and alcohol destroy my Mets. Now, I am just watching a lack of talent…And then came July 29th.
For the majority of 2015, the Mets were hanging around the .500 mark thanks in part to their young pitching staff, which included social media darling, the Dark Knight, Matt Harvey. I could write about how Matt had to remove himself from social media due to his behavior, but that isn’t anything new. What happened on the aforementioned date was truly exceptional and cringe worthy.
Because the Mets were hanging around the .500 mark with about 2 months left to play in the regular season, allowed the Mets to stay in contention for first place in the NL East, only trailing the underachieving Washington Nationals by a few games. The trade deadline, which was July 31st at 4pm, was surely going to be the “Hot Stove” for the Mets fanbase it had been dying for!
The Mets needed a bat, an outfield bat preferably with some home run potential. On July 29th, social media went crazy as the Mets had reportedly traded for Carlos Gomez, a center fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers would receive stud Mets pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, who was on the DL with Tommy John surgery, and SS/2B Wilmer Flores. One problem though, as this trade was being reported everywhere on social media, the Mets were playing the San Diego Padres. And who was playing SS? Wilmer Flores. The events that unfolded next were nothing short of crazy, yet spectacular TV.
Usually when a player is traded during a game, which is nothing new, the player is pulled from the game and informed usually by the PR man for the team. But that wasn’t happening as the crowd at Citi Field in Queens was buzzing about the trade. Because god forbid fans actually watch the game they are attending instead of reading about something on their phones…But I digress.
Instead, Flores was due to bat in the bottom half of the inning and as he came up to bat, this 22 year old kid, who had been with the franchise since he was 16, who had been absolutely crucified by the fan base and press as he was forced into a position, SS, that was his unnatural position, received a standing ovation from the 30,000 in attendance…And he had no idea why…
Now it isn’t necessarily clear as to how he found out, but this is how it all went down:
Fast forward to after the game: GM Sandy Alderson says there is no trade. He then blames social media for causing this whole thing.
Manager Terry Collins asked about it after the game stated that when he asked why was Wilmer Flores was crying? Someone said he had been traded. Collins then asked: “To who and for what?”
Turns out there was a trade in place but Gomez failed his physical. Then at 3:58 on the day of the trade deadline, the Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes. The next night, the Mets were playing the 1st place by 3 games Washington Nationals. The Mets won in the 12th inning on a walk off home run hit by, Wilmer Flores…Yoesnis Cespedes would go on and hit 17 home runs as a Met during the remaining part of the regular season and the Mets won their first division crown in 9 years.
Social media may have informed Wilmer Flores that he was traded when he wasn’t. But Wilmer Flores then informed us that the players really do care when we think they don’t.
Thanks Wilmer for the seminal moment I’ve been waiting for since I was last told: “Keith get up and change the channel”.