Francisco Rodriguez, Protect Teammates

Mets Players Compelled to Back K-Rod, Even as they Shake Their Heads in Disgust

By now, we all know what happened with Francisco Rodriguez—the fight with his father-in-law in the Mets’ family lounge at Citi Field; how he pummeled a much older man; his arrest and arraignment.

How does the Code play into it? Rodriguez is a member of the New York Mets, and his teammates are expected to stand up for him. Even if they can’t tolerate the guy, or what he did.

Carlos Beltran is a prime example. Talking to ESPN New York, he detailed this exact dilemma in clear terms:

It’s disappointing, man. You don’t want to see no one go through that. But it is what it is. Now he has to deal with that situation. Us, as players, as teammates, even though we don’t agree with what he did, we have to support him. He’s part of the ballclub. He’s going to come here and do his thing.

“You always protect your teammate, from management or the front office, even if they are wrong,” Jose Rijo told me a few years back. “They are your teammates, and you hate to see anything happen to them. Your teammate is like your girlfriend—once you get to know them, you love them no matter what.”

A more appropriate metaphor is teammates as brothers. Clubhouse fights are hardly uncommon, but the quickest way to get over them and build instant cohesion is for somebody wearing a different uniform to step in with an opinion on the matter.

Former Indians third baseman Al Rosen, a Jew, told a story about some vicious insults hurled his way from the dugout of the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s.

“Today they don’t allow bench jockeying, but in those days it was prevalent,” he said. “There was a lot of brutal stuff that went on. They tried to get to a player, and obviously a racial or religious epithet will do it. I went into the dugout at Comisky Park one time looking for the guy who had been on me for games and games. I looked right down the bench and said, ‘The son of a bitch who’s been saying that come on out.’ Nobody would.

Saul Rogovin, who was Jewish and pitched for them, knew who it was, and he told me later on, ‘Al, I wanted to tell you who it was, but I was a teammate of his.’ He was put in that spot, and he couldn’t get out of it.”

As reported by Buster Olney, Francisco Rodriguez has far too big a contract to serve as reasonable trade bait for pretty much anybody (if his option kicks in, the Mets will be paying him $17.5 million by 2012), meaning he’ll likely be in New York for the long run.

If they haven’t already, his teammates should begin preparing their “no comments” right now.

– Jason

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