May 6, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) against the New York Knicks during the first half of game four in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 89-87. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Bunt and Bolt: Jose Reyes Revisited

Yesterday afternoon in Toronto, David Wright knocked the 1,301st and 1,302nd hits of his illustrious career, moving him into sole possession of second place on the Mets’ all-time hit list. And while he has a good chance of surpassing Ed Kranepool’s franchise record of 1,418 this very year, the attention right now is turned to the man Wright just broke a tie for second with: the man whose 1,300th and final hit in the orange and blue will forever remain a controversy.

Sep 28, 2011; Flushing, NY,USA; New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (7) bunts during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

When Jose Reyes bunted himself to the batting title at the end of last season, we as Met fans tried to make excuses for him. “He really wanted to give the franchise its first…” “He’s been working hard all season; let him have this one…” “He’ll make it up to us next season when he comes back…” Turns out that was Reyes’s last act in a New York uniform. He bolted for Miami a couple months later with a goodbye mostly devoid of gratitude, and gradually, much like with my viewing of M. Night Shyamalan’s butchering of The Last Airbender a couple summers ago, we stopped trying to find the good within the sea of what was so wrong and accepted the display for what it was: a dud, through and through.

Even R.A. Dickey, so complimentary of his teammates in Wherever I Wind Up, thought there was something fishy about the way Reyes finished out his Mets career:

“To see a man who gives so much of himself, who plays with such passion, being a spectator as the final innings of the season came and went just doesn’t seem to be the right image. I would’ve much preferred to see him flying around second with braids flapping and sliding head-first into third. Now, that would’ve been a much more fitting ending for Jose Reyes.” (p. 294)

After Wright surpassed Reyes on the team’s hit list, Howie Rose and Josh Lewin on WFAN began talking about why Jose ordered his batting title grab-‘n’-go last year. They speculated that he already knew he wasn’t coming back to New York, which meant he wouldn’t have to answer to the fans over his bunt-on-and-out business. It’s interesting to wonder what would’ve happened if he had taken any of the other three options, either bunting and staying, swinging and staying, or swinging and bolting. Clearly, swing-and-stay would have been the best option if Mets fans had the choice. But Reyes chose bunt-and-bolt, a choice which damaged him in the eyes of Flushing fans the most. Even the swing-and-bolt choice, while it would have stung, would have been better: at least he would’ve done the honorable thing and given us his absolute all.

Reyes’s defection to South Beach conjures up another image of a famous athlete who a couple summers ago decided to “take his talents” down there. While it was hard and undesirable to make the connection in December, enough time has passed that we can start talking about Jose in LeBron terms.

I did not have a problem with the concept of LeBron James signing with the Miami Heat over the Cleveland Cavilers. In fact, I applaud him for at least having the decency to play out his contract before deciding to leave, as opposed to Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams holding their franchises hostage in order to force a trade. Free agents should be able to sign with whomever they want; in this regard, I accept that Jose Reyes took his talents to South Beach because it was his right to do so. But what did bother me about James’s move to Miami was the way he announced his Decision, ripping out his hometown’s heart in a national TV spectacle. That was unnecessary, ill-conceived, and it made Cleveland hate him. Caviler fans may miss LeBron James the athlete, but they sure as heck don’t miss LeBron James the man.

The same can be said about Jose Reyes in the eyes of Met fans: we may miss his skill, but the spectacle of his final act in an Amazin’ uniform, not to mention the way he whined about not getting an “official” offer from New York in the offseason, cast a long shadow over his many talents. His actions were, like James’s, unnecessary and ill-conceived, and they hurt our pride as fans of the New York Mets. So while we miss the way he helped us win ballgames, we do not miss Jose Reyes the man. This team is far better off without an attitude like that in the clubhouse.

You can follow me on Twitter @MidwesternMet and at my own Mets blog of the same name. Thanks for reading, have a nice day, and L.G.M!

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Tags: Bunt And Run David Wright Editorial Jose Reyes Lebron James Midwestern Met New York Mets Revisionist History Rising Apple Will DeBoer

  • MikeLecolant

    Well done!  Let’s hear it for the new Number Two.  Huzzah!  I’m more disappointed we didn’t trade him.

  • Will DeBoer

    Well hindsight is 20-20, after all. Plus can you imagine the outrage and backlash that management would’ve faced if we did trade him? @MikeLecolant 

  • JamesTierneyFogarty

    So because he wanted to win the title he’s bad guy? It’s not like bunting for a hit is something he would never do, its a part of his game and it worked. If he swung through pitches all day and lost the title we would all be complaining about how undisciplined he was. He left, get over it! This is the era of free agency and it happens. Just because it hasn’t happened since Strawberry doesn’t make Reyes a jerk. He wanted his title, he wanted a fat contract. The Mets made him a weak offer he would never accept, and because fans have largely scapegoated and criticized him unfairly (very much like you have here) I was not surprised when he left. He was blamed for a lot, called soft, not smart, lazy etc. and the fans always made him the 2nd banana to Wright, he deserved better treatment than we gave him, and its sad that even after he left people are still bashing him. 

  • JamesTierneyFogarty

    Also, this article starts out as “i didn’t like that he bunted, that was lame” and in the last sentence you say the Mets are better without his attitude. Is that the attitude that Dickey, Collins, Wright and literally everyone he has ever played with has lauded? Because to turn around and say the clubhouse is better off is just foolish. You have no clue what goes on in there first of all, and based on everything we the fans have seen and heard; he was a model citizen. When the Mets were winning and he was hitting I’m sure you loved his little handshakes and found his infectious attitude great, but now that he left and made the Mets fans feel lousy its convenient to turn around and slam that same behavior. The fact is that many were hurt by his choice to leave and thought the bunt was lame, fine that’s fair. But in the last sentence to tack on the insinuation that those actions made him some sort of clubhouse cancer is poor writing.

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