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The fire of Johan Santana

Ben Shpigel of the New York Times reports that Johan Santana wasn't happy about coming out of last night's game:

When Jerry Manuel came out to retrieve Johan Santana in the eighth inning Tuesday night, Santana flashed him the baseball and repeated to him, "I'm a man." It's a variation of what he wrote on the dry-erase board in the Mets' clubhouse before his amazing start against Florida in Game No. 162 last season: "It's time to be a MAN."

Santana was equally unhappy with Manuel's decisions earlier in the game:

His signature moment came in the sixth, when, after failing on his first two bunt attempts, Santana was ordered to bunt again but defied those orders. He saw a pitch he thought he could handle, and he socked a game-tying double into the right-field corner.

Shpigel cites each instance as evidence of Santana's leadership and fire. And I think he's probably right about that. I wonder, however, if anyone would say the same thing if it were, say, Carlos Zambrano who argued with his manager when being yanked after ignoring his signs earlier. Would we be talking about his fire, or would we be talking about his attitude problems?

Again, this isn't intended to pick on Santana for his behavior or absolve Zambrano for anything he's done in the past. It's just worth realizing from time to time that there's a fine line between passion to win and an "incident," and maybe it would be helpful to remember that the next time someone goes a little crazy on the baseball field.