Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is the Walter Reed Medical Center Controversy really that big of a deal?

So by now odds are you’ve heard about the Mets trip to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Tuesday to visit wounded soldiers.

There were four Mets absent from the team’s visit. One was Dillon Gee, the rookie who was starting that evening against the Nationals and had been excused. The other three were Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.

Since the report was made that these three missed the scheduled trip (of which the Mets have gone each year for the last few years) and the rest of the team was there, a lot has been made about it. A report came out saying the Mets front office was “very unhappy” with the three players and the fans and media coverage have blasted the trio.

Beltran wound up explaining he missed the trip (which was NOT mandatory by the way) because he had a meeting with his foundation (The Carlos Beltran Foundation) to discuss plans to build a high school in his native Puerto Rico. He also explained that he visited the Veteran’s Hospital in the offseason with owner Fred Wilpon. He said he had “liked it. And I wanted to go. But I had my own things to do.”

Castillo and Perez had less “explanation”. Castillo felt he would have been too traumatized by the sight of injured soldiers and would have not been comfortable seeing them. Perez gave no explaination at all saying “I don’t answer (questions about) anything about outside the stadium.”

The reports go on: The Wilpons are mad, their team-mates are mad, the fans are mad, the media is mad.

However, is this really something that is the big deal they are making it out to be?

Beltran’s explaination was a pretty good one. He had been to the hospital before and the meeting he was at was for charitable reasons.

Castillo’s may sound weak, but we don’t know the extend of his ability to filter out the situation. I know of people who lost children to a particular issue, be it accident or cancer or whatnot who are not able to visit other kids in a children’s hospital because of the memories it drudges up. Perhaps Castillo has a simular situation in his past with soldiers/wounded vets.

Perez… his refusal to give an explanation doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one. (However I would actually think it’s more likely Perez is in no rush to do anything for the Mets he doesn’t have to do.)

Listen, was the move a public relations mistake? Of course it was, especially with the seasons each is having. Right now, it seems the fans and media is looking for any excuse to pile on these players. I’m actually surprised that Perez is able to walk around in New York right now listening to how much he seems to be disliked by the team and fans.

Supporting our Military Veterans is something I very strong about. I don’t take anything like this lightly, however the players not only had the right to not go, it seems that people haven’t even considered that there was legit reasons they didn’t.

With all of the problems the Mets have right now, making this an issue is just stupid. Celebrate the players who went and how the visit made them feel, but enough is enough with killing the few that didn’t go.

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