Jose Reyes doesn’t deserve the Mets’ baffling generosity
There are so many things to marvel at when it comes to the Mets, and when it comes to the men who own and operate the Mets. The product, at present, speaks for itself, an endless string of banana-peel days and clown-shoe nights, much of it courtesy of a general manager whose shelf life has come dangerously close to expiration.
But as easy a target as Sandy Alderson has become — and make no mistake, if he can’t be blamed for the team’s injuries he is very much on the hook for the razor-thin roster of replacements that have caused this teetering wreck of a season — it is always important to remember: He just works here. He is a part of the culture.
But the culture starts at the top.
And the tone-deaf Greek chorus that filters from those executive suites has been in especially remarkable voice these past few days, as it has become apparent that the Mets are consumed with giving Jose Reyes a fitting send-off.
Now, remember something: These are the same folks who refuse to retire the numbers of any member of the 1986 Mets. There is no more seminal figure in that era of Mets history than Keith Hernandez, who is still as much a face of the team as anyone, but there has never once been any steam toward retiring No. 17 — despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that it would make their longest-suffering fans awfully happy.
It’s also worth remembering that while the men at the top weren’t responsible for trading Tom Seaver — much as you’d like to try, you can’t pin every bad thing that’s ever befallen the Mets on them; there was once a man named M. Donald Grant who made the Wilpons look like Branch Rickey and John McGraw — Fred Wilpon very much was one of the men who allowed the Mets to lose Seaver a second time, in 1984, when they left him unprotected.
Sentimentality has never exactly been in abundance around the Mets — which, truthfully, is exactly as it should be. But if there were, you would think they would have used it to combat, for instance, the fact that Seaver still feels slighted about the way he’s memorialized at Citi Field. They won’t build a statue for The Franchise.
But they’ll go to ridiculous lengths to protect Reyes’ feelings?
What it tells you is that — among many other things — the men who run the Mets have zero understanding or feel for the sentiments of their most ardent fans. If they truly believe Jose Reyes is a beloved Met, then their calendars are permanently frozen in 2007. Look around. Listen. Few Mets right now draw the consistent ire among the faithful as Reyes, booed lustily on those rare occasions he is actually permitted to escape the dugout.
A couple of things to remember about Beloved Jose Reyes:
1. He was allowed to leave via free agency — without the Mets making so much as an offer before he reluctantly signed with the Marlins. How essential can he really be to franchise lore if the men who own the Mets now — and did so then — couldn’t have been bothered to even make a token offer to keep him — coming off a year when he won the only batting title in team history?
2. Speaking of that 2011 season, there were an awful lot of Mets fans turned off by his final act as a Met — bunting for a base hit leading off Game 162, then leaving the game for a pinch runner with his average frozen at .337 and his batting crown secure, not exactly Ted Williams-playing-the-final-doubleheader-in-1941-type stuff.
3. Those who could forgive that have had a hard time forgiving the .139/.205/.194 slash line he brought into Sunday’s Subway Series finale with the Yankees.
4. Those able to forgive both those things have a hard time — and rightly so — forgetting that the only reason Reyes was available for his encore as a Met is because he was a pariah in the sport following a domestic-abuse suspension handed out by MLB in 2016, the details of which remain chilling.
This is the icon for which you’re taking great care not to offend?
Here’s what’s offensive: If the Mets are done with Reyes, then be done with him. Release him. Offer him a coaching job. Schedule a nice pregame ceremony for him sometime in August. If you are going to use him so sporadically anyway, then cut bait and be done with it.
But to pretend that this would draw the ire of Mets fans? Please. For better or worse, it would antagonize thousands of times more of those fans if the Mets send Michael Conforto to the minors. The men who run the Mets would know that if they had the slightest feel for their constituency. Big surprise that they do not.
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