David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
There's really no way to sufficiently explain what exactly happened Wednesday night from 7:10 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. at Citi Field. We were there for every minute of it, and all these hours later, the whole bizarre affair feels just as bewildering as it was then.
We'll start with the easiest part to digest. According to sources, the Mets had agreed on a trade to send Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler to the Brewers for centerfielder Carlos Gomez. Pending physicals, of course. Wheeler is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, so this deal wasn't quite the slam dunk it may have been under different circumstances.
The disintegration of the trade, however, was where everything went sideways, including the drama that played out on the field, where the Mets were getting thumped by the Padres, 7-3. During the seventh inning, Wilmer Flores got a standing ovation from the Citi crowd and Terry Collins had no idea why.
The next inning, Flores was in tears as he stood at shortstop, as puzzled onlookers wondered why in the world the Mets hadn't pulled him from the game yet if he's headed to Milwaukee. We'll let Collins give his side of the story.
"Somebody came to me and said, 'Wilmer's crying,'" an agitated Collins said after the game. "I said, 'Why?' Well, he got traded. To who? For what? I didn't know."
Usually, this is not a very complicated procedure. When the GM has a trade in the works, he'll call down to the dugout and tell the manger to remove those players from the game to make sure they don't get hurt. Afterward the deal is announced, and that's that.
Only Collins never got that phone call. So he did what any manager would do. Focus on winning the game, even as players around him are talking about trading for Gomez. Collins was not happy about that. Not one bit. "How would you react?" Collins said. "You think these guys are stone-cold robots? They're not. They're human beings who have emotions. And this kid's upset."
Collins continued his rant, talking about how everybody's on their phones during the game -- we presume he's talking about the fans, not the Mets -- and why anyone even comes to the stadium rather than just sitting at home "watching games on TV on their cellphones." We understand why the manager was upset. What unfolded Wednesday night at Citi Field was ridiculous. So much so that Sandy Alderson felt the need to apologize to Flores, who had to go through all that in plain view of a stadium and TV audience.
"There is no trade," Alderson said. "And unfortunately social media got ahead of the facts and it may have had an adverse effect on one of the players rumored to be involved.
"It was an unfortunate situation. It was something I've addressed personally with the player involved. It's one of those things that happens today with modern communications. Whatever has been speculated over the course of the evening has not and will not transpire."
A lot of good that did Flores, who wasn't pulled until the ninth inning, when Ruben Tejada appeared in the on-deck circle to bat for him. By then, Flores was a mess, and Collins saw no reason to subject him to that anymore. "Nobody called me and said take him out," Collins said. "Finally, at the end of the game, we just said, 'Hey, let's just get him out.' We don't know what's going on. Let's get him out of the game."
The manager wasn't alone. No one knew what the heck was going on, expect for maybe Alderson, who still offered few details in that clubhouse hallway. Flores seemed relieved that the trade was dead, his eyes still red from the tears. But now the Mets won't have Gomez, another badly needed upgrade for the offense. "Hopefully we can move past this," Collins said.
Frankly, we're still not sure what "this" even was.