No New York Mets player ever won a batting title before. No Mets pitcher has ever thrown a no-hitter. No Mets player has ever been the league’s Most Valuable Player. Okay, you get the idea. In a less than thrilling season, the notion that one of our guys would capture the batting crown was something to keep fans going. It even brought fans to Citi Field on the last day of the season.
They wanted to see Jose Reyes compete against Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun for the batting title. Some people brought their kids because they wanted them to remember the moment. Others, thinking this could be Reyes’ last game as a Met, wanted to be there to appreciate his talents for one last time. All that mattered little when Reyes led off the bottom of the first inning, bunted for a base hit, and then was pulled for a pinch runner.
Did Reyes pull his hamstring? Did something happen to him? The crowd didn’t wait to find out and started booing. We found out later that Reyes pulled himself from the game, with the hit guaranteeing him a .337 average and making it almost impossible for Braun to catch him unless Braun went 3 for 4 that evening. Braun actually went 0-4, so it now this stands out as poor sportsmanship for Reyes to have backed into the title that way.
Fans booed Reyes during what is possibly his last game at Citi Field. Long-time Mets fans were annoyed with Reyes’ selfish attitude, putting his personal record ahead of the good of the team. Although manager Terry Collins supported Reyes and the decision, it is clear that such a move is at best tacky and at worst emblematic of Reyes’ disrespect for Mets fans and the organization that he has called home for the last nine years.
After the game when asked about the unhappy fans, Reyes said, “I don’t care what people think. A lot of people told me, ‘Don’t play today.’”
Okay, so Jose doesn’t care what the fans think. That will go over in New York as well as instant pizza and frozen bagels. We Mets fans are passionate about our team and our city. We support our players and respect them, but we want the same from them. It has always seemed the Reyes is a total player. His uniform is always dirty after a game. He throws himself completely into a game, and we have come to appreciate that dedication, so I guess when we saw this completely unexpected cop-out we were more hurt than angry, although many expressed themselves vehemently when they booed.
Some have argued that the 77-85 Mets had nothing on the line in this game. They were just playing out the schedule, and that made it okay for Reyes to take an early shower. Things would be different if this were a game deciding a playoff spot. This would matter more if this game mattered more.
I am sorry, but every game (every inning) counts. It is not about the contest having meaning because the game is more important than anything else. You know the old saying, “It’s not if you win or lose but how you play the game.” Well, that is applicable here. Jose made a tremendous mistake and manager Terry Collins should have told him “No!” He should have said, “The hell with the batting title. Get out there and play your nine innings and give these fans what they paid for.”
Unfortunately, this was not to be. Once again, Mets fans, stung by the Bernie Madoff scandal and injuries galore, had to endure yet another slap to the face. In the old days that might have sparked a duel, but the way we Mets fans are feeling now, we are better off just turning the other cheek and walking away.
Jose Reyes won a batting title; so what? Truthfully, I’d rather he hit .235 and see the Mets were going into the Wild Card series. The batting title is little comfort for a horrible year that has followed other horrible ones. Reyes will no doubt take the money and run - all the way to another team as far as he can go.