By Taryn “the Coop” Cooper
“Keep the Commandments and say a prayer for Gil Hodges.” – Father Herbert Redmond of St. Francis Roman Catholic Church, Brooklyn, NY.
I always liked that story about the community rallying behind adopted Brooklyn boy and Dodger hero Gil Hodges when he fell into a major slump. To this day, his wife Joan always appreciated the good thoughts, prayers and vibes that they received. We’ll never know if the prayers and thoughts truly helped, but the thought was there and was immensely appreciated as he broke out of it.
Which brings me to today. We’ll never see a community rally behind a player. I think it’s because the parity of the game has changed dramatically. Back in Hodges’ day, baseball wasn’t the only thing they did. It basically put a roof over their heads, but far from guaranteed financial security for generations to come. Plus, Gil Hodges was the strong silent type, and in post-war America, guys like him were revered.
Now, we want motivated, emotional and screaming types. We want less like Gil Hodges, who just take slumps like most down points in our lives and wait them out, and more like Ozzie Guillen, who constantly put their feet in their mouths (of course, I doubt we all want guys like Guillen…maybe Bobby Valentine is a better example who tries to light a fire under his players’ asses).
Jason Bay is a curious case for Mets fans though. With good reason, most would like to see him benched or at the very least, platooned. To say that Bay hasn’t lived up to his standards as a Met is an understatement. When you look at the back of his baseball card, it simply looks like his time with the Mets is a blip on the radar, the inconsistency and the fallacy to his career.
Most point to his defensive play as his saving grace, that if he were bumbling in the outfield, he’d be booed out of Flushing. Well, I won’t say the boo birds haven’t been in full force…but let me tell you. I’ve been a Mets fan a long time, and I don’t think fans want to boo this guy.
I think we want a Gil Hodges-type of season to come out of him. Hey, it could be far worse I suppose.
In the last few games, he’s come up big, in the series against the Phillies, and even last night robbing a home run and hitting one himself against the Braves.
We’ve always rooted for underdogs, but in Jason Bay’s case he never was that in his career. He was just a good solid player who’s had a string of bad luck in his time with the Mets. Looking at the landscape though, the Mets ARE Jason Bay: the guys that tries to do right but has that Job-ian existence, or even Sisyphus where he keeps pushing the rock, only to have it roll back down…only to push it back up again.
I’m not saying I wasn’t about to give up on Bay, but like Sisyphus, he never stopped trying so I have to give him that.
I’m not comparing Bay’s play to Gil Hodges, who was a Mets and Dodgers hero for more than one item, but perhaps rallying behind his play instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop (did I mention his pinky was also bent last night???) is the way to go.