Matthew Cerrone, Lead WriterThere are people who don’t like Jordany Valdespin’s ‘style,’ antics or his excitement. I’m not one of these people. I don’t really care what his teammates think, what reporters think, or what former managers think.
In a post to his blog for ESPN New York, Adam Rubin says, “Baseball culture has always discouraged individualism, and it seems like Valdespin’s histrionics have made him a lightning rod.”
In a game against the Phillies, Valdespin hit a triple while the Mets were trailing by six runs. He pounded his chest and pointed to the sky after standing up at third base. Fans booed and the Phillies looked perturbed, but he didn’t care.
“Everybody knows that’s how I play my game,” he told Newsday. “I don’t care. If they hit me (in retaliation), I’ll steal second and give David a chance for an RBI.”
Hilarious. I love it. He’s saying, ‘Bring it on.’
Terry Collins seems to agree, saying this week: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, keep your eye on the ball on the field and don’t watch it. Let him play his game.”
And that’s the thing, as a Mets fan, I like him because he hits in the “clutch,” he makes me jump from my seat, he’s a fun story and I enjoy rooting for guys who have unbridled enthusiasm for the game — for their game — and who don’t care what other people think.
I want to see him play more, because I can only imagine how he’ll act with everyday success. However, he’s just so damn valuable off the bench — he’s hit six home runs as pinch hitter since being promoted, which is two shy of the franchise record.
“He’s mastered the art of pinch hitting,” David Wright said this week, according to ESPN New York. “He makes it look a lot easier than it really is. He’s figured it out — a way to get himself loose and get himself ready. It’s impressive to watch.”
It is impressive, it’s fun and he’s creating a story and legend that is incredibly rare for someone with just 248 career at bats.
“He loves to come off the bench when the pressure is on, when the heat is on. He’s amazing. I mean, it’s truly amazing what he’s done as a pinch hitter,” Collins said after Wednesday’s game, during which Valdespin hit a pinch-hit three-run home run. “His eyes seem to get bigger, and he seems to see the ball better.”
The thing is, this doesn’t mean Collins intends to use Valdespin in his every-day lineup.
“One of those things with those bench players like that, you create the scene for them,” Collins said. “If he’s hitting third, he doesn’t come up in that situation. … (When he’s a starter) he gets a little aggressive at times where he gets out front a little bit. But, for some reason in those big situations, he doesn’t do that. He doesn’t get that big stride going. And I think it helps.”
There’s also the issue of his Instagram account, which is one of the funniest things I’ve seen from a baseball player on the Internet. Frankly, I’ve hesitated writing about it because I know the Mets read this blog and after seeing my words I fear they may request he change his approach.
“As of mid-December, every photo Jordany Valdespin had ever tweeted and 75 of his 88 instagram photos were photos of Jordany Valdespin,” Ted Berg explained in his recent write up on Valdespin for USA Today. It’s May, and not much has changed, all of these are images he has posted, indicating he’s also clearly proud of being on the Mets:
He loves himself, or – at the very least – he is very proud of himself. He has his own self-created hashtags and nicknames: #PapiValdy and #TeamJV1. He often wears a bright red hat with JV1 (also his nickname on Twitter) in huge letters across the front. He has photographed himself in front of photographs of himself. He also posts rather risque cartoons and commentary, all of which are probably common thoughts for a 24-year-old baseball player. The only difference is that he’s open and honest about it, and he doesn’t care what we think, and he’s the same way on the field… and that’s what I like.
I hope it all continues. But I suspect it won’t. Eventually, he’ll stop hitting in the clutch, or he’ll play everyday and his mystique off the bench will disappear, and his antics will grow tiresome. Or he’ll do well and the team (management, veterans, etc.) will box him in. Maybe he’ll simply mature a bit and settle down. I hope it doesn’t. He’s been fun to watch so far… at a time when I’m desperate for some on-field (and off-field) entertainment.