All we want is for Jose Reyes to understand. Understand how much Mets fans love and appreciate him. Understand that he is the reason we still come to Citi Field. Understand that if he leaves, it will break our hearts.
Yesterday, we were left to wonder if maybe he just doesn’t get it, or worse — doesn’t care.
With the NL batting title on the line on the last day of the regular season, Reyes bunted for a single in the first inning, meaning the Brewers’ Ryan Braun would need to go 3-for-4 or better to win the crown. Reyes was promptly removed from the game for a pinch-runner, a decision that he later stated was his own. Some fans booed. They wanted to see their team’s best player in what could be his last game as a Met. He just wanted to be a batting champion.
We want Jose Reyes to love us a fraction as much as we love him. If he doesn’t, why wouldn’t he do what most top-tier free agents do nowadays: milk the market for the highest bidder, and find a new home? But if he does, even a little, then maybe he would stay in New York for slightly less money than he could make elsewhere.
To Mets fans, Reyes is something special — from his electrifying speed, to his daring baserunning, to his rocket arm, to his elaborate handshakes, to his smile, to his cool demeanor, to his genuine, unabashed love of the game. He’s not like every other superstar.
But Jose’s decision yesterday mirrored the decisions of many players in his position in recent years, and it reflected the self-before-team attitude that has become commonplace in the MLB. The last two NL batting champs, Carlos Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, didn’t play the last two games of their title seasons due to “minor injuries.” 2008 winner Chipper Jones had six plate appearances in the Braves’ final seven games, and just one in Game 162. Who’s to say that, when faced with the even bigger decision of where to continue his career, Reyes won’t again follow the status quo — like Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn and so many others have done — and follow the money?
Part of Reyes’s charm is that he pays no mind to media pressure and criticism. He spent the entire year telling reporters he wouldn’t be worrying about free agency until the season ended, and that he was just focused on playing ball. But yesterday, Jose not only showed he doesn’t care about criticism, but also that he doesn’t care much about praise — at least not from fans or reporters. Sure, he came out to wave goodbye to the few hundred fans remaining after the game ended, but those fans came to see him play, not wave. Those fans want to see him play for the Mets for years to come.
Reyes’s move was not intended to make anyone angry. After all, by leaving the game, he increased his chances of becoming the Mets’ first batting champion, which he achieved after Braun went 0-for-4. Heck, maybe Jose didn’t want the day to become a big goodbye, since he believes he’ll be back in 2012.
No one knows. In the end, all we really learned yesterday is that Jose Reyes does his own thing, and therefore the fans are unlikely to play a factor in his decision this offseason.
All we can do is pray that our beloved shortstop decides that what’s best for him is also what’s best for us.