“Oh man, I’ll bet he’s so upset right now.”
Once news broke that former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was indeed leaving Flushing, my thoughts automatically went to my younger brother. There’s a big age disparity between the two of us; while I grew up with players like Todd Hundley and Mike Piazza, he grew up with Reyes and David Wright. Sure, he’s watched baseball since he first came out of the womb, but Reyes was the first player my brother understood, grew up and fell in love with.
I wasn’t surprised when my Dad told me there were tears and alone time needed on my younger brother’s part. After all, this was one of the many athletes who took up space on his bedroom walls. Believe me when I say not just anyone makes it onto his bedroom walls.
And maybe it’s stories like that which made the Mets franchise think it was a good idea to have a Reyes tribute on Tuesday.
However, that isn’t the most egregious issue at bat here. It’s pretty shameful for Mets fans to boo Reyes’ return.
Look, having to say goodbye to an immensely talented player who grew up in the system hurts and it’s understandable people would be crushed seeing him come back in a different (and super ugly) uniform. Yes, he left for a better contract and a division rival in the Marlins, and it stinks, but he was one of the best players to play for the franchise. He never reached his full potential as a Met, but he did produce some great moments with the club.
It’s also not as if Reyes hated New York and was counting down the days until he left. Honestly, I do believe Reyes would have stayed with the Mets if the contract had been there. But in the end, Sandy Alderson wanted to rebuild more than he wanted to keep Reyes. The Mets are in transition, but it’s always been pretty clear Wright would be the poster boy for years to come. Even Reyes admitted that Wright is the “face of the franchise.”
It sounds heartless (the game is America’s past time after all), but baseball is a business, and more so a business than any other sport. It’s been that way for a very, very long time. Reyes leaving for the Marlins was strictly business, and it isn’t different than what most other major leaguers go through.
While dedicating a night to him wasn’t the best idea on the Mets’ part, fans should have conducted themselves better. I’m sure that for a good number of them, it wasn’t like Reyes was their childhood hero growing up, and even then it wouldn’t have been okay to boo him. However, calling him “trash” is not alright. He was never, and never will be, trash to this baseball club.
During the video tribute for Reyes, fans should have either sat down and said nothing or at least applauded out of respect for someone who served as a beacon of hope for nearly a decade, because he was. Before everthing went down the drain and all sorts of speculation that the Mets could win a World Series went to dust, Reyes and Wright were the ones who everyone looked to first.
There didn’t need to be whistles or ovations or screams; Reyes did have his lazy moments as a Met afterall. However, there shouldn’t have been jeers. Unfortunately there were.