“It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up” is a time-honored political adage. Mets infielders Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil would have been better off following that advice last Friday night after they got into an off-field dustup during the seventh inning of what turned out to be an exciting 5-4 comeback win in ten innings over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

It’s not easy for a new infield combination to get acclimated. Shortstop Lindor and second baseman McNeil have had communication issues in the field during the early going of the 2021 season, although in fairness they have turned some nifty double plays.

In the top of the seventh inning the duo misplayed what should have been an easy out. These things happen and so do heated conversations, especially when the highly intense McNeil is one of the parties. He and Lindor had a heated exchange in the runway connecting the Mets dugout with the clubhouse. Few would have known about this fracas if most Mets players hadn’t left the dugout in the bottom of the seventh inning to hurriedly enter the runway.

The Mets were down 4-2 at the time, but fortunately for them, Lindor picked an opportune time to break out of his season-long slump by smacking a two-run homer to tie the game. The Mets would pull out a 5-4 win three innings later.

Naturally, Lindor was asked about what happened in the runway by the media after the game. Instead of coming clean by admitting they were blowing off some steam, Lindor came up with a weird tale about how they were debating whether it was a king-sized rat or a raccoon they were seeing in the runway. I’m sure the Citi Field grounds and sanitation crews were thrilled.

He might have been able to sell this far-fetched story if McNeil hadn’t been so jumpy at his postgame presser where he raised the possibility the mysterious animal in question might be a possum. It’s a good thing he wasn’t hooked up to a polygraph. Also working against Lindor’s yarn was how the Mets rushed out of the dugout. Some of these guys are afraid to get a Covid-19 vaccine so I doubt they’d want to approach a possibly rabid mammal.

I can’t blame Lindor for creating the rat/raccoon drama. He’s new to the team and figured taking a “what happens in Fight Club, stays there” attitude would earn the trust of his teammates. Both he and McNeil had been struggling offensively and that played a huge role in last week’s dismissal of hitting coach Chili Davis, which had to have weighed on their minds.

The funny thing is Friday night’s weirdness may have been exactly what was needed as both have started playing better.

See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.

Carlos Carrasco, the veteran starting pitcher who was obtained from the Cleveland Indians in the Lindor trade, told the media recently he would be ready to get back on the mound in early May. The Mets transferred him last week to the 60-day injured list which means he won’t return until early June if things go well. The Mets say Carrasco hasn’t suffered any setbacks and they simply want to make sure he is fully healed.

I get that it is early in the season, but I am beginning to think Mets president Sandy Alderson might be regretting rushing to sign James McCann instead of being more patient and negotiate with the more finicky JT Realmuto as both were free agents after the end of the 2020 season. Realmuto is a far better player who knows the National League well whereas McCann had spent his entire career in the American League until coming over to the Mets. On Saturday he was called for catcher’s interference twice, which is something I had never seen before in a game.

It was a terrific gesture by the Mets and Yankees to offer a free ticket to anyone who buys a ticket to a game and stops off first at one of the Covid-19 vaccine stations at Citi Field or Yankee Stadium. Hopefully, sports teams who play in places where there is vaccine hesitancy can make similar offers as an incentive.

Willie Mays turned 90 last Thursday, which made anyone who ever saw him play centerfield for the San Francisco Giants or the New York Mets feel quite old. Baseball Digest recently named Mays the recipient of its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

Turner Sports has signed a familiar face to Rangers and Knicks fans, Kenny Albert, to be its lead play-by-play voice on National Hockey League telecasts beginning this fall.

Life and style

I was saddened to learn of the passing last week of rock & roll pioneer Lloyd Price who was best known for such classics as “Lawdy Miss Claudy,” “Where Were You on Our Wedding Day?”, “Stagger Lee” and “Personality.”

In the 1970s Price became involved in boxing promotion. He worked alongside Don King in setting up the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman which took place in Zaire, which is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I met Lloyd Price a decade ago and we hit it off (the Lloyd fraternity is not a big one!). He told me Ray Charles, who was also on ABC-Paramount Records at the time, borrowed the idea of using a big band and a backing chorus on his recordings from him.

One of the many good things about the decline of Covid-19 rates, thanks to intelligent people getting their vaccines, is gyms are reopening at higher capacities. Exercising is beneficial, of course, but challenging your body after a long layoff will lead to inevitable physical discomfort.

There are many topical cremes which can be applied for relief. Turmeric is a spice which has been acknowledged for having anti-inflammatory medicinal benefits. Anshi, a San Diego-based company, has launched Total Healing Turmeric, which is part of its Transdermal Rub series of products. For more information, log onto anshiheals.com

Cannabidiol products, better known as CBD, have really taken off in the last five years. Cannabidiol is an ingredient found in the Cannabis sativa plant, which yes, is the same plant which produces marijuana. These days the medicinal benefits from hemp appeal to those who couldn’t care less about smoking weed. Kannaco’s (kannacocbd.com) 4000 mg. CBD OTC Penetrating Pain Cream purports to offer quick relief to aches and pains wherever they may be in your body.

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