I, no doubt like most fans of the New York Mets, am still not able to process the loss of superstar short stop Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins. Yes, I know it has occurred, but I am still hoping that something will make me snap out of it and realize this is only a dream.
Actually, it is like some terrible nightmare. In my mind this is right up there with the worst trade in Mets history – Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds, but it is in fact a more insidious and devastating move that will affect this team and its fans for years to come.
The loss of Seaver in a deadline trade in 1977 sent away the player, dubbed The Franchise by New York sports writers, who embodied the heart and soul of the Mets. It didn’t matter that the Mets were a losing team when Tom Terrific was pitching. People went to see him, to watch his mastery on the mound, to enjoy his personality and his true connection to fans and team.
Now flash forward to 2011. Reyes may not have been “the franchise,” but he surely was the most popular, effervescent, and talented player on the Mets in recent years. Coming off his best year ever, including a .337 average that gave him the National League batting crown, Reyes was (just like Seaver) a reason to come to the ballpark. Watching him hit a triple was like sitting back and listening to Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello. It became an ethereal experience, making for a majestic and surreal moment when all seemed right in the Mets’ universe.
Sadly, Reyes takes his wonderful smile, his exuberant spirit, and his many talents to Miami. Yes, there are those who say Reyes is too injury prone. His legs are going to go on him. Whatever the reason the Mets did not make a serious offer, it leaves Mets fans cold. Many of us feel that GM Sandy Alderson should have done whatever it took to get Reyes back to Citi Field. Now he will return with the visiting Marlins on April 14, 2012, and how much do you want to bet that there will not only be a capacity crowd but that they will give him a standing ovation?
Now on talk radio there are the rumbles about trading David Wright because Reyes is gone. Alderson is no doubt fueling these rumors with talk about using the cash that would have gone to Reyes for “rebuilding.” Now, don’t go get visions of sugarplums and C.J. Wilson dancing in your heads, because it is more than likely that Alderson is settling his brain for a long winter’s nap.
Let’s face the ugly facts: the Mets are going nowhere in 2012. We can call this the “Season of If” : if Ike Davis can return in top shape, if Johan Santana can return and pitch like he used to do, if Ruben Tejada can be a full-time shortstop, if Mike Pelfrey can ever shake the bats out of his belfry, if Lucas Duda really has thirty homers in that bat, if Angel Pagan can return from last year’s disappearing act, if Jason Bay can be the guy he used to be in Boston. The “if” list can go on and on.
In the end this loss of Reyes is worse than the Seaver trade. The loss of Seaver destroyed the team and it took years (seven actually) for the Mets to start to show signs of resurgence (ironically, after Seaver again was lost to the Chicago White Sox and a young pitcher named Dwight Gooden came into the picture). Losing Reyes now is a firm and clear commitment by Mets management to giving up on 2012 before it even commences. At least Seaver was traded during a lost season; this time it is clear the season is already lost!
Now, it has been eleven years and counting since the Mets were in the World Series. Let’s say with great confidence that this will the twelfth year without any shot at it. Many more lost years may be on the horizon if Alderson lets Wright go and basically waits for the Phillies players to start needing canes and walkers. With Miami poised to become the new powerhouse in the NL East, there probably will be no joy in Metville for a long time to come.
Photo Credits: reyes – espn.com; Seaver – bleacherreport.com