For whatever reason, several news outlets have published full-length features on the "issue" of three Mets not visiting the Walter Reed Army Medical Center with the rest of the team on a recent D.C. roadtrip. These various columns have implied a number of interesting things about the accused, the most ridiculous, though, being that they calculated their absences as some sort of negotiating ploy or show of their dissatisfaction with the team.
Beltran has a year left to go on his contract. So does Castillo. So does Perez. All athletes worry about their next contracts when they get close to the end of their current ones. It is why Beltran wanted to get back on the field, even in his current diminished capacity, hoping he would look better than he has before his walk year, worried about what happens to him when he comes to the end of his $100 million contract a year from now.
Beltran's skipping of the type of charitable event he has attended before suggests his alienation from the team, which is displeased that it must pay him $18.5 million to play on a gimpy knee in 2011.
And this comedic gem from the Wall Street Journal:
But these three Mets? Considering that the team this season will pay Mr. Beltran $18.5 million for his .235 batting average, Mr. Perez $12 million for his 6.65 earned-run average, and Mr. Castillo $6 million for his complaints about losing his place in the starting lineup, isn't there a fair chance one of them would have been clouted over the head with an artificial leg?
The reality is, three Mets players, acting as individuals, choose not to go on the team's trip. Beltran skipped because of an important meeting to coordinate a school he is building in Puerto Rico. Yes, Mike Lupica, Carlos Beltran was fretting so much about his next paycheck, he donated an entire high school. Castillo claims the sight of amputees is traumatic. Perez refused to be put on trial.
Were these excuses valid? Lame? Who cares? The more interesting question seems: why did this incident even become such a story in the first place? Simply put, it sells newspapers. The press saw three already polarizing figures and reported this non-story until it seemed like a huge event. They didn't even have to say anything -- just ran it enough, and the people who already hated Perez, Castillo and Beltran readily latched onto the idea that these players were intentionally and maliciously spitting on every value they hold dear.
The best part is how these journalists created the players' insidious motives -- by involving baseball. Because they're not team players on the field and in the clubhouse, it's no surprise they fund Hamas and hunt bald eagles in their spare time, all to get back at Fred Wilpon for paying them hundreds of millions of dollars. The press created a story to play on the universal sentiment that there are things greater than baseball and money, but in doing so, completely trivialized something important by unduly making it about baseball and money.
In my estimation, these men are the real heroes. They saw 22 Mets acting nobly and graciously and wrote a story about contracts and people getting bludgeoned with prosthetic limbs.