Last night, rookie infielder Jordany Valdespin hit a three-run pinch-hit home run off Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning to give the Mets to a 5-2 win.
“I feel very happy,” Valdespin told WFAN after the game. “When I saw Nickeas hit, I thought, ‘I can do it. I’m the man right now.’ He made a mistake, and I hit the ball well.”
Before yesterday’s game, the team put Ruben Tejada on the 15-day disabled list, after which Terry Collins said Valdespin would start at shortstop today.
“He is an extremely talented young player,” Collins said last night. “So we’re going to run him out there tomorrow. … I know he’ll handle himself great.”
Last month, during an interview on WFAN, Collins acknowledges that Valdespin is viewed by people as being a bit cocky.
“He’s got one of those attitudes that we need to make him understand what it takes to play at this level,” Collins said. “But, our veterans will keep him in line.”
Last night, Collins told reporters that Valdespin has ‘handled himself well,’ since being promoted to the big-league roster.
Personally, I could care less. I like bold and brash with a dash of arrogance, so long as it’s on my favorite team, and so long as the player produces. In fact, I’ll probably like the guy better if he’s got some flare, like Jose Reyes had, like Pedro Martinez had, like the 1986 team had, and like Rickey Henderson perfected. Sure, there can also be players like Lastings Milledge, who got under the skin of veterans and traditionalists, but that becomes so much worse when you’re not playing well.
It’s worth noting that Valdespin seemed nothing but humble in his post-game interview on SNY, WFAN and ESPN, as well as in his talk with reporters after the game. In fact, when talking to Kevin Burkhardt, he nearly had a tear in his eye when dedicating the home run to his mother.
The point is, I’m not a big believer in the play-the-game-the-right-way mantra. I watch sports to have fun and, while I respect tradition and professionalism, a little show-boating can also make things more fun and exciting sometimes. I know last night was just one hit (albeit a huge hit), and he’s only 1 for 7 since being called up. But, I hope he plays more, and I hope he’s eventually awesome, because he seems like a fun player and someone I would really enjoy rooting for.
To see Valdespin’s three-run home run, watch this highlight on MLB.com.
For more on Valdespin’s night, check out this report by Jeff Bradley in the Star Ledger.
To see his post-game talk with Kevin Burkhardt, watch this: