Francisco Lindor hit his first Citi Field home run as a Met on Friday night, but no hint of a smile could be seen on his face afterward. Maybe he was still frustrated over the early-season slump that has caused the Flushing faithful to boo him.
Or maybe Lindor was still fuming after having had a dustup with double-play partner Jeff McNeil minutes before he went deep.
Shame on us for thinking the latter, at least: Lindor told reporters postgame that he and McNeil were just debating whether a rat or a raccoon had made its way into the park. Lindor had rat, he said, and McNeil had raccoon. Lindor also had rediscovered his smile and laugh as he said this.
“We were going back and forth debating if it was a rat or a racoon”
SOUND UP to hear about what happened in the tunnel between Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil from Francisco himself 🤣 pic.twitter.com/REn66S6nf3
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 8, 2021
McNeil contradicted Lindor when he got his turn at the microphone — he said he thought it was a possum.
Jeff McNeil gives his side of the rat-raccoon story:
“Rats in New York are a thing, I saw what I saw and that’s the way it is”
On if he cares if people believe the story: “They can believe whatever they want” pic.twitter.com/jMqLznw5yE
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 8, 2021
In other words, the $341 million shortstop and a teammate whose nickname is “Squirrel” took time during a tense game to check out a roaming rodent, after the two had just appeared to miscommunicate on a ground ball that turned into an infield hit for Nick Ahmed.
Cool story, guys.
The first clue that this was more than a wildlife expedition came from a between-innings replay on the Mets’ broadcast. An SNY camera picked up Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith and Jonathan Villar running into the tunnel between the dugout and the clubhouse in the middle of the seventh. Pete Alonso later ambled over to monitor the situation.
After the replay came some middle-school gossip: McNeil wasn’t in the dugout to congratulate Lindor for his game-tying homer; Alonso gave McNeil a pep talk before going out to their positions in the eighth and Smith did the same with Lindor after the inning; smiles were sparse after . . . whatever happened.
In the bottom of the ninth, a grim-looking Lindor gave a grim-looking McNeil an awkward pat on the hip and some words prior to McNeil hitting a leadoff single.
But then Lindor bunted into a forceout, the Mets failed to win in regulation (Alonso snapped his bat after flying out to end the ninth) and the game rolled into extras. The Mets eventually walked it off in the bottom of the 10th on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice roller by rookie catcher Patrick Mazeika. And everyone was really happy again as they ripped off Mazeika’s jersey between first and second base.
And then came Lindor and McNeil’s odd cover story.
Maybe they can try to lure that rodent back to the Queens Zoo and settle this once and for all prior to Saturday’s game. A big slice of New York pizza should do the trick.