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You Can’t Teach Grand Slam Etiquette

(As possibly occurred at Mets’ Dominican minor league instructional camp, following the 1999 season. Translated from the original Spanish.)

“All right everybody settle down. We’re going to take a break from our regular drills to talk about situational fundamentals.”

“Situational fundamentals, Mr. Minaya?”

“That’s right. I’m down here from New York in my capacity as senior assistant general manager because the organization wants you to know how to behave in every possible situation on the ball field. Our first priority is making sure you know what to do in an extra-inning postseason game.”

“Mr. Minaya?”

“Yes, Nelson?”

“Do you expect us to be in a lot of those in our careers?”

“Well, as New York Mets prospects, you should know that if you make the majors with our team, you have three-in-ten chance of playing in an extra-inning postseason game. That’s based on the most recently available data.”

“Wow, Mr. Minaya. That’s a very sophisticated statistical analysis.”

“Kid, we’re the New York Mets. We’re all about sophisticated statistical analysis. You know what I’m sayin’?”

“I’m not sure, Mr. Minaya.”

“We’ll save that for the class on free agent contract negotiations we’ll be holding later this week. For now, I want us to concentrate on these extra-inning postseason games. Those have some very tricky situations, so let’s get to the most important one.”

“What’s that?”

“Let’s say you’re batting with the bases loaded at home in a tie game, and you hit a ball over the wall…yes, Nelson?”

“No disrespect, Mr. Minaya, but aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves here? I mean we’re all basically rookies just trying to figure out how professional baseball works, and you’re talking about a very rare and very advanced situation.”

“Nelson, the New York Mets organization believes in starting at an end point and working backwards. You can’t say it doesn’t work, based on our recent success.”

“But you lost your last game.”


“We. ‘We’ lost our last game.”

“That’s better. Show some Met pride, Nelson. Just because you weren’t on the field with Kenny Rogers when he threw ball four, it doesn’t mean you can’t claim to have taken part in our success. We may have lost, but what we lost was a big game and a big series. Take pride in that.”

“But ‘we’ lost.”

“That’s better.”


“Anyway, let’s get to our visual aid. I’m going to pop in the tape from Game Five — which we won, so Nelson won’t be confused — specifically the fifteenth inning when Robin Ventura batted with the bases loaded. Do you see what he does there?”

“He hits the ball out of the park.”

“Very good, Nelson. Can you see anything wrong with what happens afterwards?”

“Sure. Anybody can see that.”

“That’s correct, Nelson. Robin tried to round the bases.”

“Wait — that’s wrong?”

“Sure. If Robin rounds the bases and scores, we win 7-3.”

“How could that be wrong?”

“It’s all right, but anybody can do that.”

“Anybody? But nobody ever did that before! Nobody ever hit a grand slam home run to end a postseason game before! By definition, nobody can do it. Or has.”

“Nelson, you’re forgetting the Mets Way. The Mets Way is to go for the drama [1] before anything else.”

“But what about Pratt?”

“Pratt? Very dramatic. He proved that against Arizona.”

“Yes, but didn’t Pratt do wrong by tackling Ventura? He cost the Mets three runs! You…”


“Sorry. ‘We’ should have won 7-3 instead of 4-3.”

“But Nelson, don’t you see? It’s much more dramatic this way. It’s much more exciting and memorable. We can market this. It’s already known as the ‘grand slam single [2]’. That’s so much more interesting than just another grand slam home run.”

“I don’t know, Mr. Minaya. It seems kind of important that every run score. Besides Ventura doesn’t even get credit for a grand slam this way.”

“Robin has plenty of those, but only one of these. What’s really important is how heads-up Pratt was there, making the scene so memorable. I don’t know what Robin will do when he’s retired [3], but I really think Todd is managerial material.”

“For ignoring the rules?”

“Nelson, we’ll have to work on this during drills. We’ll put three men on base and you’ll hit a ball over the wall. The goal will be to make sure you don’t reach second base.”

“That’s insane!”

“You’re a good prospect, Cruz, but keep talking like that and we’ll ship you off for some marginal utility infielder [4]. Trust me, you’ll appreciate this lesson if you’re ever up with the bases loaded in an extra-inning postseason home game that’s tied. You know what I’m sayin’?”

“I know you’re sayin’ that if I ever have that opportunity and don’t let one of my teammates tackle me, they’ll say I’m the first one to hit a grand slam home run to end a postseason game [5], and they probably won’t even mention Robin Ventura.”

“Very good, Nelson! Now let’s move on to our next subject: batting championships. Say you’re leading the league in hitting by a few points and it’s the last day of the season and you’re leading off for the Mets, quite possibly in your last game as a Met. What do you do? Let’s hear from someone else…Jose?”