Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Sit and Valdespin
Last night, the Mets newest hero surfaced, in the name of the sparkplug that is Jordany Valdespin. Many in the casual Mets audience might not have heard of Valdespin, short of his 0-for-6 stint in his first cup of coffee, but those in the know have known he's been around. I first saw Valdespin last year in Spring Training, where he hit the ball all over the place and played with the kind of abandon generally reserved for Jose Reyes. There was talk of some character issues. But attention was paid, and by time this Spring rolled around, Valdespin was probably worth a serious look, which he received, although nonetheless he was sent to AAA. But you could see the energy and the attitude he played with, and you knew it wouldn't be long before he'd be back in the Majors.
Even when he was going 0 for his first 6 in the Majors, you saw a little bit of that energy out of Valdespin. He often looks like he's ready to just jump out of his shoes and fly around the field. The arrogance is there as well. Before his pinch-hitting appearance, he was standing in the on deck circle, casually flipping the bat back and forth in his hands. Perhaps he's the perfect type to be interjected into the Mets/Phillies rivalry, which seems to include all sorts of posturing and attitude.
He certainly showed his flair for the dramatic last night. In the perfect storm of a situation, Valdespin's first Major League hit was also his first Major League Home Run, and also a game-winner in a game where the odds seemed completely stacked against the Mets.
With the Mets going up against Roy Halladay, this was basically a one-ear game. I had it on TV from the outset, but once the Phillies took the lead on Niese, you figured that was probably that. Halladay would cruise, and at some point I'd just flip over to the Rangers game. But then Wright doubled and the game was tied, and then Shane Victorino was getting called out for interference (a sure sign—a few years ago, this kind of call always went against the Mets, particularly when it involved Victorino), and then I was cooking dinner, and then Ty Wigginton was flattening Josh Thole at home—but still being tagged out, and then it was still tied, and it was the 9th inning.
But, again, this game's funny. Instead of holding to form, and the Phillies winning on 2 walks and 73 feet worth of singles, Valdespin came up and gave everyone in Philly a nice big Shitsteak, short circuiting any potential Philly rally before it could even start and giving the Mets one more surprise victory in what seems to have been a season of surprise victories.