There is a song in fantasy folklore that goes – “Don’t be afraid of the big bad wolf.”
But Kolten Wong sure as hell has.
This past weekend, Kolten Wong sent St. Louis Cardinal nation into a frenzy when he popped off at the mouth after being asked about the potential platoon situation at second base heading into the 2017 season.
An excerpt from the story, columned by our good friend Ben Frederickson at the Post-Dispatch:
“I don’t think you give somebody a contract for no reason,” Wong said. “When you are given a contract, you are expected to get a chance to work through some things and figure yourself out. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, all these guys never figured their stuff out until later on down the road.
BOLD, bold words from a second basemen who hasn’t won a batting title, been to an All-Star game, or a Home Run Derby. (All of the players he mentioned there have been if you didn’t know).
We are entering year four of the Kolten Wong experiment, and there are two arguments forming within Cardinal nation:
- He has been managed poorly and has not been given enough opportunity.
- Wong isn’t really a good player, and not worth his contract.
Regardless of how you feel, and there may be merits to both sides of that argument, there is another glaring sentiment growing around the Cardinals’ second basemen.
What bothers me most about the whole situation is this:
- Kolten Wong simply cannot handle adversity.
- Kolten Wong doesn’t TRULY deserve what he has been given.
And THAT is why he cannot, and continues to not be successful in his career.
Whether he has or hasn’t been given the opportunity isn’t, every time there is a bump in the road, Kolten Wong simply has not, and refuses to rise to the challenge.
Kolten Wong is the little pig, and the big bad wolf of adversity continues to blow his house down, year after year.
(By the way, Matt Adams and Jonathon Broxton ate the other two)
As a professional athlete, regardless of whatever situation you are in, adversity is the name of the game.
Whether it be injury, a positional battle, or big contract – NOTHING is a guarantee in professional sports.
As such, you better be able to handle yourself when it comes around, and have the credit to back yourself up if you are going to make statements like he has made.
Kolten Wong was given a gift of a big new contract, and has seemingly under-performed – there is no denying that a career average of .248, 28 homers and a mere .309 OBP isn’t worth $5 million a year.
I don’t care who you are or what side of the fence you sit on, those numbers don’t add up to the “I’m allowed to work through things” nonsense he was feeding everyone this Sunday.
You can tell Kolten Wong he is the guy every night of the week, but when push comes to shove, those numbers are better served on the bench or at the AAA level.
Although he recanted his immature and poorly timed rant (good work Cardinals PR staff), Wong once again has put himself in a tough position, both on the field and in the clubhouse.
He will be looked at by management as a headcase and someone who can’t handle himself when things get tough, and the locker room will look at him as someone who is only out for himself.
A locker room is only as strong as its weakest link, and right now, that link just reared its ugly head, a week before the season starts.
As a young player, your job is to learn to play through adversity, knowing you haven’t earned a thing you have been given.
Kolten Wong seemingly has yet to fully appreciate that concept, as it reflects in his play, and now his mouth.
I’ve never been a Kolten Wong fan (can you tell?), but I will say his decision to go rogue Sunday was alarming, both in timing and demeanor.
He’s never convinced me he could play full-time and live up to he money we pay him, and now this makes me think a platoon idea probably isn’t the worst idea in the world.
The kid is clearly off his rocker.
Until Mr. Wong can truly EARN what he has been given, I will then be convinced he DESERVES it.
Thanks for reading.
For more grumpiness about young athletes, childhood nursery stories, and the word Wong, follow @TonOfClayton