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Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose…

December 5, 2011

My grandpa called me today to remind me of the fabled contract negotiation between Babe Ruth and the owner of the Yankees, in which the owner said, “you’re asking for more money than the president makes,” and Ruth responded, “I had a better year than he did.”

I took the above video parked in my self-upgraded Caesar’s Club seat at Citi Field on September 28, 2011. Please forgive my singing as I excitedly anticipated history – though Mets fans ended up with more history than we’d bargained for. I’d sworn off 2011 Mets games the week before following  an awful performance against Washington, but had come to Citi Field on a whim, no doubt for the same reason as everyone else that day. It wasn’t about watching the geriatric Miguel Batista throw an improbable 123.-pitch complete game shutout. Fans flocked to Flushing to watch Jose Reyes. I wanted to document each at-bat of what I and thousands more knew would be an historic day for both Reyes and the Mets. What we didn’t know was that this would be our only chance to see Jose as he secured the first batting title in Mets history with a drag bunt, the final hit of his 2011 season and his Mets career, before he was removed for a pinch-runner. Just like that, he was gone far earlier than we fans wanted him to be – both from the game and, now, from a Mets uniform.

If only Terry Collins had left him in long enough for Jose to give us one more stolen base. After all, it was his speed that enticed us all as he emerged in 2003 a scrawny 19-year old making his major league debut for the Mets in Arlington. Maybe Jose could’ve stolen second base for us to put the icing on a deliciously bittersweet 2011 cake and torn his hamstring in the process, driving his value low enough that the Mets could’ve afforded him.

Then again, if Sandy Alderson was that reluctant to bring him back healthy, I imagine he might’ve paid an injured Reyes to sign elsewhere.

I’m not too mad at Jose Reyes. I don’t think many Mets fans are. He loves us guys. We know it would’ve been nice to see him stay a Met his whole career, or at least through one more contract. I understand, with his relatively fickle legs, Reyes’ decision to take the longest deal he could get. I believe (read: hope) that this was more about the length than the money. I wish the guy well – but not too well, at least for 18 games a year. Al Leiter said that when he returned to pitch against the Mets as (ironically) a Marlin in 2005, a fan told him, “Al, I love you, but I’m going to boo you.” Hopefully Mets fans have it in their hearts to cheer Jose just as they did Mike Piazza when he returned as an opposing player. After all, the last thing Jose ever heard during a Mets game was boos as Justin Turner came in to pinch-run for him.

Maybe this wouldn’t hurt so much if the Wilpons would just come out and say that they’re strapped for cash. But there is a fine line between smart and stingy, and sooner or later that point needs to be addressed. I agree with Alderson’s reluctance to offer Jose six years – I can’t remember who said it first, but it’s always better to let someone go too early than to hold onto them too long. There’s a decent chance that both the Mets and their fans will look kindly upon this move in the near future. But with Alderson never even having made a formal offer, this feels like a real slap in the face to Mets fans; he didn’t trade Reyes at the deadline and said repeatedly that keeping him was a top priority. Then, at least publicly and “formally,” he didn’t even try to.

Indeed, this is a tale of deceit more than one of disappointment. The Wilpons sounded like a broken record as they insisted that the money they lost/were losing in the Madoff fiasco would not affect the team’s payroll. Then Sandy Alderson used it as one of his many excuses for not even offering “top priority” Jose Reyes a contract. By definition, that’s called lying. The layman’s term involves male bovines and the fecal matter produced thereof.

The effects of losing Reyes will no doubt be felt deeper than losing his undeniable spark. Can Angel Pagan handle being the team’s catalyst? More importantly, will David Wright crack under the pressure of being the sole face of the franchise? Ever since the team began playing at Citi Field, it seems that Wright has tried too hard to have the role of hero dictate his performance, rather than letting his performance become the heroics. With his co-star Reyes now off to Mr. Loria’s Wonder Emporium, it’ll be a really tough time for Wright if he keeps pressing. That is, unless he also finds himself in a new uniform come 2012.

If Johan Santana, Ike Davis, Wright and Daniel Murphy are healthy and successful next season, it’ll be easy to root for what we have rather than dwelling on what we don’t. Here’s looking at you, Ruben Tejada. Between you, Murphy and Lucas Duda, Mets fans have a lot of promising youth to be excited about. Those front office guys can go… never mind.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2015 5:16 am

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  2. Olerud_4_life permalink
    December 5, 2011 10:32 pm

    Cant get mad at sandy and you cant get mad at reyes. 2006 was the beginning of the twilight zone. This move is similar to when the Mets signed Pedro in 2005. THey know they overpaid (gave way too many years), but with mike stanton developing, and a good pitchign staff with josh johnson, they are trying to set a new era that wil attrat both fans and players to the team.

    Good move by marlins (way too many years though) and a smart reset button by sandy. The owners lost money to madoff and are broke and selfish (they screwed over that investor dude when the judge ruled in their favor) and that handcuffed sandy. But now is a good time to start developign guys and maybe make a sneak run with the guys we have (duda, wright, bay with the walls in now, ike, pagan if he can grow a brain, tejada, and even murphy/turner at second). Gotta be patient, the phils are somehwat goign for broke as their window is closing with so many large contracts and aging players, washington overpaid for werth and probably wont make any big splahses in the near future, although they have some nice pieces in desmond and that left fielder with the weird stance and long swing, but good power (morose or something). And the marlins are making moves, but reyes hasnt had a clean healthy season for three years (if they get puljols and somehow keep gaby sanchez ill be scared). Be patient Mets fans, our day will come again.

    • December 5, 2011 10:59 pm

      Word, dude. I agree wholeheartedly. Honestly, I’m not even worried about the Phillies because after that huge deal they gave Howard and the moronic contract that Rollins is demanding, they’ll find themselves in trouble for years to come. Not to mention I’ve never seen an offense as pathetic as the Phils in the NLDS. Pitching is one thing, but if you can’t score any runs, you’ll lose 1-0 and your first baseman will rupture his Achilles.

      Honestly, the only reason I’m mad at Sandy Alderson and not just the Wilpons is because of the manner in which he went about things. If he knew all along that he wouldn’t be able to resign Reyes, he should’ve tried to trade him so we could at least get a prospect. Now with the new CBA the Mets could end up with the Marlins’ fourth round draft pick as compensation if Pujols goes to Miami. Granted Alderson couldn’t have seen this coming, but it hurt a little bit to hear “Reyes is our top priority” over and over again only to see them not even make an offer. Obviously the Wilpons are to blame for everything, and I really wish they’d take a leaf out of McCourt’s book and sell the team. Just like with McCourt, it’ll be too late in the game, but better late than never.

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