Baseball is more of a look-at-me game than ever before, with players finding constantly seeking new ways to thump their chests on television. After a season of Puig and Gomez and Fernando Freaking Rodney, somebody with some pull finally decided to say something about it.
On Friday night, Mets closer Jenrry Mejia increased the amplification on his postgame histrionics that were already writ large (dude moowalked off the mound to celebrate an eighth-inning strikeout against the Yankees) to the degree that his manager, Terry Collins, finally had to say something.
On his best days Mejia’s act is overblown, but it wasn’t until he pulled out a new move against the Nationals—pantomiming a fishing rod, casting a line toward Washington’s Ian Desmond, who had just struck out to end the game, then reeling him in—that he crossed his manager’s line.
Those who defend such displays intone that it’s just boys being boys and what’s wrong with showing a little emotion. Fair enough. This is why Puig, with his bat flips and his insouciance, has skated thus far. Those flips are just a thing he does almost mechanically, and the opponent (at least so far) appears to be strictly incidental to his histrionics.
But it’s easy to see how things could get personal after Mejia cast his line. This wasn’t an unrestrained display of emotion following a hard-fought victory. This was a calculated display aimed at drawing attention to himself at the expense of the guy he had just beaten. Most big leaguers would like to think they’re above that kind of thing. And most of them are. Desmond claimed not to have seen it, and good for him for taking the high road, although Denard Span told the Washington Post that “it wasn’t called for.”
Collins himself stepped in, telling the closer to back off the shtick. According to various Twitter feeds, the closer agreed. The Nats won on Saturday and Sunday, so we haven’t seen whether Collins’ words got through, or what toning it down looks like to Mejia.