Why baseball should be thankful Adam Jones spoke out

Tim Brown
MLB columnist

The only reasonable part about Monday night in Boston is this: Adam Jones did not believe he had to suffer those insults alone.

Maybe that’s something.

I hope Jones spoke out because he knew he stood with the decent among us. I hope he pointed his finger because the best of society would gather behind him. I hope he believed the loud and ugly few would not be tolerated by the many. That there would be consequences. That he would have allies. More, that he would have friends.

The world does not lack for idiots who draw their cover from a crowd, their courage from a tap. So here we are. Now what?

Adam Jones is the best of the game. He is smart and aware and a wonderful player. He does not, far as I know, go looking for the idiots. They found him.

Adam Jones looks up at fans in the third inning of Tuesday’s game at Fenway Park. (AP)

The reaction was swift. A couple weeks after Jackie Robinson Day, commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement that condemned “the racist words and actions directed at Adam Jones at Fenway Park.” The Red Sox apologized to Jones and the Orioles. Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, called the incidents “unacceptable and not who we are as a city.”

Now, Jones did not need the league, the opposing ballclub, a city or fellow ballplayers to come rushing to his side. He’s big enough to fight his own battles.

But I hope he knew it was possible, even likely, and that for a moment it would be him who was standing in the crowd.

By Tuesday night at Fenway, as Jones approached the plate in the first inning, the public-address announcer introduced him as always: “Center fielder, No. 10, Adam Jones.”

The people in the ballpark applauded. Some stood. In right field, Mookie Betts removed his cap. He applauded too. Jones tipped his cap.

Maybe that’s something.

***

LESSON FOR NOAH SYNDERGAARD

The beauty of Noah Syndergaard and the Mets is that everybody (presumably) learned something, together, like in one of those movies of the week from back when.

This, then, is when the Mets – that’d be Sandy Alderson and company – place the pipe in their mouths and summon that Atticus Finch countenance, and little Noah gets his hair tousled, both smarter and humbler for what was a real mess. This is not to say it’s not still a real mess. Only that the movie has to end sometime. We’re left to assume the happily-ever-after part, even if we have our doubts.

Start with Syndergaard. Twenty-four years old. Damned good pitcher. Hasn’t yet won 15 games in a season. Hasn’t yet thrown 200 innings in a season. Still, he romanced the hardest girl on the block, that being New York City, because of his talent and brute strength and charisma. As hardball careers go, a pretty good place to start.

This is where young Noah got a little sideways. See, nobody whips the game. But, you’re 24, you have a little money in your pocket, you’re standing in Times Square in a superhero costume, everybody loves you. Remember what it was like to be young and bulletproof?

Remember what happened next?

Noah Syndergaard exits with an injury after 1 1/3 innings in Washington. (AP)

Sunday happened next. Five runs over four outs happened, and then you grabbed an exploded body part, and you were wrong, wrong, wrong, and your choice from there was to continue to be the unaccountable, boorish young man you’ve acted like or to open yourself to the possibility you were wrong, wrong, wrong.

Then, the Mets. Somebody had to be the adult in the room. But they were swept away, too, the stage-door parents who found themselves in the role of subordinate fan boys. Somebody had to be the hammer, and it couldn’t be the guy holding the Styrofoam prop. Somebody is paying the bills around here, and it ain’t the pitcher.

Maybe the Mets need to ask themselves how they got here. If the culture they fostered emboldened Syndergaard to decide the rules were somebody else’s problem. (It’s not all bad news, either. Syndergaard wanted to pitch. Plenty of guys are all too happy to jump in the MRI bin and call it a day.) If they’re lucky, Syndergaard will have thought this over too. Stardom comes fast in the big city, but eventually you’ll have to do something to earn it.

***

WHAT ELSE?

Caleb Joseph, the Orioles’ backup catcher, homered Saturday in New York. The drive to left-center field drove in two runs, as there was a runner at first base. Two days later, Joseph doubled home another run. So, that’s three RBIs for the season for Joseph, which maybe doesn’t seem like a lot. But, then, like most things, this is about perspective. Joseph, a likeable Tennessean and what the scouts would call “a catch-and-throw guy,” which is code for “has a .213 career batting average,” hadn’t driven in a run since Sept. 11, 2015. He batted 141 times last season. Zero RBI. He batted 21 more times this season. Still nothing. Then he got Tommy Layne on the first pitch he saw in the ninth inning of a blowout, and Gary Thorne bellowed, “RBI’s! Two of them! For Caleb Joseph!” Root for Caleb Joseph.

We should point out that the Giants, Royals and Blue Jays all won on Monday night.

Eugenio Suarez is a 25-year-old Venezuelan who plays third base for the Reds. Two-and-a-half years ago, the Reds acquired him (and Jonathon Crawford) from the Tigers for Alfredo Simon. Just in case you wanted to know who was the NL WAR leader on May 2.

My take: Leave the bench or bullpen during a dustup and get a big fine and a suspension. In the case of full-squad goings-ons, stagger the suspensions. Yeah, that leaves the batter on his own, which maybe isn’t fair, considering he’s probably the one who just got thrown at. But, then, what’s charging the mound ever accomplished?

***

INCOMING

Yankees at Cubs? Yankees at Cubs.

The probables:

Friday: Michael Pineda vs. Kyle Hendricks

Saturday: Jordan Montgomery vs. Brett Anderson

Sunday: Luis Severino vs. Jon Lester

Fact: Lester is 13-6 with a 3.78 ERA in 29 career starts against the Yankees.

Other fact: The Yankees have stolen the third-most bases in the American League, behind the Rangers and Mariners.

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