Putting down bleach, Mets need clean slate to come out in wash

August 11, 1993|By Bill Madden | Bill Madden,New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- I don't know how my brethren in the Baseball Writers Association may feel now -- particularly Dave D'Alessandro of The Bergen Record and Mark Herrmann of Newsday, the two scribes who wound up on the receiving end of Bret Saberhagen's starch gun. But it seems to me Gerry Hunsicker, the New York Mets' delegated Vice President for Damage Control, summed up this season in hell quite accurately and appropriately yesterday.

"I'm frustrated and disgusted with having to deal with this stuff every day," Hunsicker said upon releasing Saberhagen's confession/apology statement. "At least this is one incident we can put behind us."

Trust us, Gerry. We of the working media are equally disgusted with having to deal with this stuff every day. And hopefully this incident can be put behind everyone.

By his own admission, Saberhagen was embarrassed by an act of frivolity gone awry, so embarrassed he couldn't bring himself to 'fess up to it. We can only take him at his word that it was not an extension of some personal war being waged upon the media wretches who have driven the Mets into the sub-expansion depths in the NL East. (First a ground attack with firecrackers, then an air attack with bleach?)

Suffice to say, Saberhagen has acted like a bit of a jerk lately. A jerk, but not a felon -- which is what the cops in Los Angeles have declared Vince Coleman to be after his regrettable and reprehensible actions. But perhaps now, with Saberhagen's ,X apology and admission of guilt, the Mets can at least finally begin the process, as Hunsicker put it, "of cleaning our act up."

It has been a dirty, ugly season at Shea. If only what is left of it could be played out on the road, leaving us with nothing but the Yankees, real baseball and a real pennant race with which to content ourselves. Every time the Mets have come home, there's been something other than baseball going on out at Shea, something ugly.

It was nice to see Fred Wilpon come out of seclusion and speak out on the unspeakable behavior of his ballclub the other day.

"We should have reacted earlier to a deteriorating environment between the players and the media," Wilpon said. "Now it's our job as an organization to begin repairing that and not just by shipping some people out of here. We've got to get player representatives, management representatives and media representatives in a room to see how we go about fixing this mess."

I have to believe Saberhagen's admission of guilt and agreement to donate one day's pay to a charity of choice by the Baseball Writers Association was the direct result of Wilpon's involvement. (On the other hand, it is probably a good thing his partner Nelson "Make-it-a" Doubleday has been away on a yacht somewhere off Nantucket since his last public appearance, when he trashed a coterie of ex-Mets as well as the media.)

Say this for Wilpon. He at least has given the appearance of being a man of affirmative action. Of course, when he says he intends to start repairing things, he is probably talking about Saberhagen.

For it is he who gave the OK to Al Harazin to extend Saberhagen's contract for three more years at $15.38 million last spring. Saberhagen hasn't even begun to draw on that yet, but in two seasons as mere $3 million-per-year Met he's 10-12. In other words, for all his dumb and ill-advised off-the-field actions, he is one Met who won't -- or rather can't -- be shipped out.

With that in mind, it would seem in the best interests of all concerned to accept Saberhagen's apology and donation of one-day's salary of $15,384.62 (obscene as that may be) to the baseball writers' designated charity and put the incident behind us. It is the necessary start for putting this entire Mets season behind us.

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