“I wanna be the richest.”
Those were the infamous words uttered by Darryl Strawberry towards the end of the 1990 season, that precipitated his departure from New York through free agency. The rest of that story as we know is a well documented tragedy.
The Mets were resigned to not meeting Strawberry’s demands and never really offered him a representative contract the way Los Angeles did. And once he left for L.A., Darryl was vilified by Met fans for it.
When he made his return to Shea Stadium in 1991 with the hated Dodgers, I went to the game and sat in the Upper Deck box out in right field. Upon his first at-bat, he was both vindictively booed and resoundingly cheered at the same time. Then came the chants of DAAR-RYLLLL!! It was one of the loudest moments I ever experienced in Shea Stadium.
Frank Viola was pitching for the Mets that day. In his second at-bat, Darryl Strawberry crushed an offering from Sweet Music over the left-center field fence in grand Strawberry fashion. Instantly, the crowd went from DARRYL!! – into a standing ovation for the former right fielder; topping one of my previously loudest moments at Shea ever. And we asked him for a curtain call too. For the rest of the game, we fans booed the hell out of him though.
Darryl Strawberry won a World Championship with the Mets during the 1986 season as we all know. Twenty years later in 2006, Jose Reyes came close. But alas, he did not accomplish what Strawberry had.
Both qualify as two of some of the greatest players to ever don the Mets’ Blue and Orange. Both were home grown Mets. And both were, without a doubt, electrifying players. Not since Darryl Strawberry have we ever really serenaded one of our own like we used to do with – Jose, …Jose, Jose, Jose.. We are now in the same position as we were in 1991, where in we were faced with either showing respect and appreciation for a beloved and former Met star, or, letting him know exactly how much we remained in disgust over his willful departure in pursuit of a big payoff.
To Cheer or Boo? That is the question. Whether it is nobler for us fans to lose our minds and sling arrows towards our once beloved shortstop, or, by tempering our discontent with Jose Reyes, we stand, cheer, and express our thanks and appreciation for his years of service. Sleep on it. Perchance to dream.
The Mets never really offered Jose Reyes a contract to stay in New York. The Marlins stepped in with an offer the Mets were in no financial situation to match, much less exceed. Exasperating this upcoming Tuesday’s dilemma and the overall situation, Jose’s departure from Flushing came under unceremonious circumstances when he walked off the field after apparently securing the National League batting title. And that is the last memory Met fans have of Jose Reyes in a Met uniform. That’s why lashing out Tuesday would be the easy thing to do.
I will be at Citi Field when the Marlins and Jose Reyes come to Flushing next week. The series will be my initial venture into Citi Field this season. This much is certain, Tuesday in particular, will be memorable. The question remains whether it will be for the Good, The Bad, or the Ugly.
Me? I will neither cheer nor boo Jose Reyes. I remain ambivalent. That’s my plan anyway. But when pressed into the moment, I will most likely stand and clap quietly for our former star. I love(d) Jose Reyes like so many of my fellow fans. But I would be lying if I now said I didn’t want him traded. I did. And stand by it. The best interest of the Mets is always item one for me. And it’s still debatable whether signing Reyes would have been the right thing. But the fact remains thus – Jose Reyes is no longer a Met today regardless. He now plays for a team as despised around here as the Dodgers are.
I’m not about to lecture my fellow Met fan regarding comportment, and how we should receive Jose Reyes next Tuesday as a Fan Base. We are all of different ages with different life experiences. We all have a common context as Met Fans. But our content still distinguishes us all from each other.
I just want everyone to take time out this weekend and think about what message you’d really like to convey to Jose Reyes, if you are going to the game that is. Or more to the point, who exactly do you want to be when you do convey that message?