Jeff McNeil, Aaron Loup suggest Mets lacked clubhouse leader in 2021

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Jeff McNeil Francisco Lindor handshake blue road uniforms September 2021
Jeff McNeil Francisco Lindor handshake blue road uniforms September 2021

During the Mets' doomed 2021 season, there were a bunch of things that overshadowed what was happening on the field.

There was the "rat/raccoon" fiasco after an early season altercation in the dugout tunnel between Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor.

There was fake hitting guru "Donnie Stevenson."

There was the "thumbs down" toward the fans situation that was spearheaded by Lindor, Javier Baez, and others.

And throughout, as then-manager Luis Rojas seemed at times to not have his finger on the pulse of what was going on, it felt like the Mets might be lacking a player who could've been their leader in the clubhouse and put an end to a lot of the nonsense.

Basically, there was no one who could do what David Wright used to do. Wright, in addition to being a vocal leader and face of the team in front of reporters, also took care of things in his own way -- including when he literally threw rookie Noah Syndergaard's lunch in the garbage.

And a few Mets recently said they might have been missing a player this season who was a true clubhouse leader.

"I think that's probably the one guy we might've been missing this year, is the [guy who says] 'OK, that's enough, it's time to get down to business,'" Aaron Loup told Devin Gordon of ESPN. "Because we all know everybody's trying, and you always get the rah-rah, 'next game, you got this' stuff. But at some point you need, 'OK, enough. It's time to go, now.'"

Said McNeil:

"We don't really have one guy who's getting after people," McNeil told Gordon late in the season. "Maybe it's something we do need. ... I've never really had that on the Mets. Three or four years, I've never really had that."

Whether someone emerges as a clubhouse leader for the Mets in 2022 remains to be seen. Will it be Lindor? Will it be Pete Alonso? Will it be a new addition?

Either way, the players will likely be led by a manager who is a bit less player-friendly than Rojas, whose coziness with the players played a role in the end of his tenure as manager.