All right, all right. So I said that I’d return before Monday if I was moved. Well, I’m moved.
I was at the Mets game Wednesday. I didn’t buy the ticket to say good-bye to Jose Reyes. I bought it a couple of months ago on the slim chance that this game may mean something. But Reyes being healthy enough to play the game was a bonus. I wore my Reyes jersey as a lot of the fans who were there did. He got a nice ovation, a “Jose Jose Jose” chant, and then he got a roar after his bunt single. Then, Reyes left the game for a pinch runner.
My first thought, even though there was no trainer to tend to Reyes, was that he was hurt. That’s just always my knee-jerk when it comes to Reyes. was that he was hurt. That’s just always my knee-jerk when it comes to Reyes. When I realized that wasn’t the case after checking my Twitter feed, I just laughed. That’s how I handle most Mets debacles these days … I laugh. Sure, I was bummed not to be able to see him and “say so long”, and maybe it was a little strange for Reyes to take one at-bat and then leave to help his batting title chances at the expense of a good-bye party between him and 15,000 of his closest friends (officially 28,000 plus … but on the planet earth there were more bloggers there than non-bloggers at this game, trust me) so that he could enjoy a later party to celebrate his batting crown between him and a few less (and much closer) friends. But I just figured “hey, these things happen with the Mets.”
But to read some of the reaction on Twitter and elsewhere you would have thought he was arrested. My lord, I thought this kind of vitriol and disgust was saved for players who use steroids, but apparently taking three at-bats off deserves the same amount of outrage as sticking a needle in your ass, which deserves the same amount of outrage as not visiting a veterans’ hospital. There’s no “low” setting for fire and brimstone anymore, I guess.
Here’s why I have no problem with what Reyes did: SNY, for a little over a month, gave us Jose Reyes Batting Race Updates before and after every single game. Met fans wanted this. It was the only thing to look forward to at the end of another disaster of a season. Everybody who has a personal/professional stake in the Mets wanted this to happen. So when Reyes does something to ensure this happens, he gets killed for it? Met fans turn on him and root for Ryan Braun? Is this serious? I get that people were upset that they couldn’t say good-bye to Jose Reyes one final time, but we knew his departure was possible for months now and had plenty of time to cheer for him. And if this was such a big deal, then were was the giant walk-up crowd for tickets? Tell me.
People have said that Reyes was selfish. I don’t disagree. Big deal. The one small problem I had with this was not that he pulled himself after the hit, and not even that it was a bunt. But it was that Reyes, a guy whose speed is an essential part of his game, almost never bunts for hits, but he puts it in his arsenal for this. But that’s a nitpicky thing. The Mets had nothing at sake in this game, and neither did their opponent, the Reds. You want to talk about a team that folded up the tent, the Reds went out and got tagged with a two-hit shutout by a 40-year-old who might have made his final appearance in the bigs. If the Mets were playing in one of those hellacious Wednesday night games against a team that needed a win to stay alive, then I could see why everyone would be a little upset. But even then, the Mets had every right to do what was in the best interests of their players just as the Yankees or any other team have the right to rest up their guys for the playoffs while playing against a desperate team. But the Yankees would never be questioned in the way that Reyes gets questioned because “Oh my god Jose Reyes is that guy that dances and he’s evil and he is bad for the game and … Jimmy Rollins!”
(I’m surprised that Rollins had nothing to say on the matter, but one guy, after being involved in a horrific baseball collapse, felt the need to wax on the subject … maybe instead of rooting for Braun to get three hits, Peter Moylan’s rooting interest would have been better served directed at his own team. I remember 2008, buddy.)
The story that everybody is missing here is the fact that you have a manager who was forever known as a hard-ass sign off on a plan to help an individual go out and win an individual award. (Not to mention that Collins teared up after the game, which was bizarre in and of itself.) The ultimate act of a “players coach” done by a man who was defined as anything but. If Terry Collins has nothing to say about it, why should anybody else?
But the funniest part of all of this are the comparisons to Ted Williams. “Well, Jose Reyes is no Ted Williams.” Wow, we’re really going to use this to compare Reyes to one of the greatest hitters of all time? Jose Reyes is no Ted Williams. Here’s my response to that: No shit! Who the f*** is Ted Williams? Let me ask y’all a question: If Reyes had played the whole game, went 1 for 4, and lost the title because Ryan Braun got two hits instead of three, would people be saying “Well, at least Jose Reyes lost the title with honor like Ted Williams was willing to lose his .400 average back in 1941?” Hell no! Here’s what everybody would be saying: “What the f*** is wrong with Terry Collins making Reyes play this meaningless game so he could lose his chance at the first batting title by a New York Met??? Aah, typical Mets screwing things up on the last day of the season.” Nobody would be comparing Reyes to Williams favorably then so why make a disparaging comparison now?
Oh, I know why: because it fits the “Mets can’t do anything right” narrative that we’ve used as our children’s lullaby for the last five years. I can’t wait until the Mets throw their first no-hitter and the media complains that “Well, Nolan Ryan would have never walked Albert Pujols intentionally because Nolan Ryan was a real man who pitched seven no-hitters with his mighty right arm while fending off killer sheep with his left because he pitched when men were men and wouldn’t intentionally walk anybody!” Please. The Mets do enough things that legitimately add to the narrative. We don’t need to invent anything to add to it. Because if Reyes wasn’t a Met, people would be writing about how he came back from injury riddled seasons past to win a batting title and that’s such a heart warming story. But he’s a Met so cue the circus music. Coming from a guy who blasts this team a lot, this kind of bullshit gets tiresome.
So in short, congratulations to Jose Reyes on his batting title. He deserves it on the merits of his 537 at-bats that he had … not the three that he missed. And cry not for Ryan Braun, because he gets to go to the playoffs which is what Jose Reyes would have rather had anyway. Believe me, we all wanted it instead of what we got. But that’s life. We deal with it. We’ve dealt with it for years. Why can’t people deal with Reyes’ batting title?