At a time when players are selling themselves to the highest bidder, holding out for the best possible contract, waiting for their money and willing to go wherever to get it; Yoenis Cespedes demonstrated some true character. A character which was very much in question these past few weeks leading up to his decision.
“Yoenis doesn’t hustle all the time, he doesn’t take batting practice, smokes cigarettes in between innings, bad attitude, not a good teammate, marches to his own drum,” and so on and so forth. This draws everyone to the conclusion that maybe no one would want that type of player on their team… but did he deserve such a bad rap?
Cespedes became a victim of the media. Writers had to embellish stories to generate a buzz and sell papers. Yes, he may smoke a cigarette from time to time but he is not the only player to do so. Does he run every pop-up out? No, but neither does every other ball player. These questions could be brought up for several other players, not just him.
It was just last season when reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper was confronted by teammate Jonathan Papelbon for not hustling. This confrontation escalated quickly into a physical altercation. Yet, Harper’s name is not brought up in conversation for being be a bad teammate. Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson was actually released by the Mets (coincidentally) for not hustling. When you hear Henderson’s name though, you think Hall of Fame player, not a bad teammate.
The captain of the Mets, David Wright, expressed the desire to bring back Cespedes. Wright even emphatically refuted the claims that Cespedes was a bad teammate. David instead praised Yoenis as a player and a person. Many other team members like pitcher Noah Syndergaard expressed the same sentiment. Noah even sent out a tweet asking if Cespedes needed a roommate and stating how thrilled he was to have his man crush back: #bestfriendsforever.
Manager Terry Collins came out publicly to commend Yoenis on his work ethic. He specifically commented on all the time he spends in the batting cages before games. Collins said he appreciated the effort Cespedes puts forward trying to learn the language and be a good teammate.
Cespedes ultimately showed his true character when he turned away offers for more money to re-sign with a team he bonded with and loved playing for. He said many times how he loves New York and loves the Mets. After being traded to the Mets last season, Cespedes had his agent remove a clause in his contract that limited the window of time that the Mets would be able to negotiate with him.
All along he wanted to put back on that orange and blue. In a time where players scratch and fight tooth and nail for every dollar they get, Cespedes emulated what it truly means to be a team player by turning down those higher offers and returning to the Mets. Now that’s true character.