Keidel: Media Boycott By Cespedes Shows Sense Of Entitlement

Yo Hasn’t Spoken To Mets’ Reporters In Over A Year

Jason Keidel
February 19, 2020 - 1:17 pm
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In the sprawling labor battle between sports teams and the players they employ, we rarely take the ballers over the brass.

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We make the misguided assumption that the player is an overpaid brat who hit the genetic lottery and backed into his money. We assume the billionaire owner, not the millionaire player, sweat the most for his lot in life, even if the opposite is largely true. Too often, it's the owner who's born on third and swears he hit a triple, while the athlete usually claws his way out of galling poverty to make it to the majors. If we root for the blue-collar kid from a hardscrabble life, then we should cheer for the player.

Unless that player is Yoenis Cespedes, who feeds every stereotype about the pampered pro athlete and has exhausted the mountain of goodwill he earned during his Herculean 2015 season, when he arrived from Detroit and carried the Mets to the World Series. 

After that miraculous run to the Fall Classic - a season in which he played 159 games - Cespedes has since played 132 games, 81 games, 38 games and then zero games last year. Yet he was paid $27.5 million, $22.5 million, $29 million and $22.9 million in each of those seasons. His time on the field has shrunk by the year from an assortment of injuries, including two heel surgeries and some bizarre incident on his farm in which he was running from a wild boar, stepped in a hole, and snapped his ankle. 

Then on Tuesday, Cespedes - who hasn't granted Mets beat writers an interview since Feb 15....of 2019 - told the press that he would not be speaking to them. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not this year. This from a star player who hasn't swung a bat or snagged a fly ball in a real game in 577 days. 

Even as his availability to the team has diminished exponentially, Cespedes has still summoned the strength to cash those checks. His bum heels haven't kept him from dashing to the bank, nor did the wild boar. 

At this point, Mets fans don't care if he was running from a boar, a jungle cat, or a Kaiju. Though New Yorkers have little patience for tall stories and an allergy to apathetic players, they have been unusually patient with Cespedes. Perhaps it's residual gratitude for his historic late-summer heroics in 2015. Maybe they saw his twin heel surgeries as hard luck from an otherwise hard-nosed player. 

Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes reacts after hitting a grand slam against the Washington Nationals on April 19, 2018, at Yankee Stadium.
USA TODAY Images

But this is enough. Cespedes hasn't earned the right to tell the press to take a hike. He can't hide behind trainers or translators. No matter his physical status, he always seems to recover just in time for his contract year. This season is the last of a four-year deal Cespedes signed with the Mets in 2016. He has one more chance to prove he's worth one more contract.  

The Mets are so vexed by his laughable litany of injuries, they filed a grievance with MLB to retrieve some of the salary they've paid Cespedes to do nothing. He's not cute or clever. His conga line of luxury cars is no longer a fun or trendy start to spring training. It's time to earn his keep and regain your trust. 

Had this happened a month into the season, with Cespedes playing poorly for four weeks and costing his club that night's game, you can understand a frustrated player barking at a bouquet of microphones. But for Cespedes to preemptively boycott the media speaks to a runaway sense of entitlement and just stretches the cultural gap between a man who flies in private jets around the world and those of us who live in it.  

We've mostly accepted the notion that pro athletes of a certain cachet make absurd amounts of cash. As long as they bust it down the line, flash a modicum of modesty, and convince us that they care about winning, we live with their obscene lives of opulence.

Yoenis Cespedes stopped caring. He likely doesn't care what the Mets think, clearly doesn't care what the media thinks and all but said he didn't care what his fans think. When asked if he would speak to his followers, to those who cheer for him and spend their hard-earned quid on his jersey, he said, "To my fans, maybe."

A perfect opening statement, closing statement, and mission statement from a fine player who didn't care enough to become a great player. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel

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