After the loss, some tensions surfaced in the clubhouse as a group a media members and one or two players stood talking loudly and laughing in a corner of the room. An irritated Alex Cora snapped, “Show some respect. They just stuck it up our (…)” on his way out of the room.
Cora’s remark is everywhere this morning, but Martino’s report is the only one I’ve seen that noted the infielder snapping at “a group [of] media members and one or two players” and not just “the clubhouse” or something vague that sounds like he was lashing out at his teammates in general.
Look: Say what you will about Cora (or say what I’ve said about Cora), I don’t blame him. It sucks when your team loses and the last thing you want to see is people joking around afterward. And yeah, it’s a 162-game season and it’s important to keep cool heads, but the Mets have been playing miserably and Cora’s understandably frustrated. One time I punched a high-school football teammate on the sideline during a 41-6 loss. Losing is upsetting.
But does this incident reflect anything about the Mets’ clubhouse chemistry or sudden lack thereof? No. It’s something that happened after a brutal loss in a string of losses, and it’s a lot harder for baseball players — or anyone — to get along when things are not going well in the workplace.
People have chalked up the Mets’ recent stretch of losses to the changes in the clubhouse prompted by the return of Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran. That’s nonsense. Those guys may be rightfully and/or nonsensically disliked among the fanbase, but find me evidence that they’re not good teammates. Why should any member of the Mets not like Luis Castillo, a good soldier who plays through as much pain as anyone in baseball?
Cora’s blowup is the type of thing that resonates right now because the team is losing and we’re desperate to find reasons beyond randomness. The Mets aren’t hitting. That’s bad. But that’s all.
If they start hitting tonight and win a bunch of games, people will chalk up the turnaround to Cora’s clubhouse explosion, even though I’d guess it was hardly that — just one frustrated quip as he walked out of the locker room.
Or, alternately, if the Mets start hitting tonight and win a few, folks will point to how the team kept loose and could still laugh after rough losses like last night’s. Just depends on which players were laughing and the whims of perception.
But what matters is that the Mets start hitting. And — and I know this is hard to believe given the way things have gone the past week — they will. They will. When Josh Thole plays, the Mets have one of the deepest lineups in the league. That they’re keeping Thole around is a good sign. If everyone stays healthy, eventually they’ll start putting enough hits together to score a bunch of runs.
And then, suddenly, they’ll be getting along great.
UPDATE: According to the N.Y. Post, the player joking with reporters was Mike Pelfrey. Oh, the intrigue.