This isn’t supposed to happen to us.
I have been a Met’s fan my entire life. I went to my first game at the age of 5. The Mets were playing the Marlins, ironic now, and my seats were at field level on the first base side of Shea Stadium.
That was before the Mets had begun a short streak of relevance, culminating in a World Series appearance, and long before Jose Reyes donned the orange and blue with the number 7 on the back.
I’ve watched this team do a lot of stupid things over the years. At the very top of that list are the signings of Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar and Oliver Perez, not far behind are trading Scott Kazmir and still a little bit further behind that is trading Billy Wagner for a couple of dimes and a nickel.
Now before you keep reading, this isn’t the tirade of a Mets fan that is angry because his favorite team let his favorite player walk. I don’t think Jose was my favorite player. He was good, yes. And I enjoyed watching him, but I have always been more drawn to David Wright and more recently Ike Davis.
No, this is the tirade of a much more rational person.
Mike Piazza was my favorite player growing up, but at the end of the 2005 season when Piazza left the Mets, I understood. Piazza wasn’t himself, his legacy with the Met’s was done, it was time to hand the baton to the new generation, namely Wright and Reyes.
It is unreasonable for me to think that every star player will be homegrown, or that every homegrown star will play their entire career with the Mets, but I’d like to think they should play the bulk of their prime with the Mets.
Some of this remains to be seen, as Reyes could tank after his career year this past season, but regardless, the left side of the infield will be a little emptier this season. Reyes left so many unanswered questions.
After 2006 the baseball world seemed to be at this teams feet, but after two collapses and an injury-plagued season, things stalled significantly. Reyes was the figurehead for all of that. He gave Mets’ fans hope and some great memories. He played with a spark and excitement that you don’t see out of even some of the games best players. Most memorably he gave us one near miss playoff appearance. But overall, Reyes, and his Met teams, underachieved. 2006 was their year, the Cardinals had hardly finished over .500, but the Mets couldn’t pull out a series victory. 2007 and 2008 seemed destined for similar greatness, but once again the team couldn’t find a way to close out large division leads with only a few games left.
I think what I will remember most about Reyes in retrospect is how much easier he made watching a bad team play, but how disappointing he was on the good teams. Up until his last minute as a Met he disappointed me. From the NLCS in 2006, through 2008, to pulling himself from his last game in a Met’s uniform to signing with the Marlins.
Skill wise, Reyes is undoubtedly a franchise player. He provides a cornerstone for any franchise to build a winning team around. But personality wise, I’m not so sure.
My father has long warned me of this, and I defended Reyes wholeheartedly, there was just so much hope surrounding him.
It is a lot to ask any player to leave that much money on the table, but predating this off-season, Reyes has never seemed like a leader to me. He always seemed like a microcosm of what was wrong with the Mets as opposed to what was right with them: a talented group that couldn’t perform to their highest level.
In comparison to his contemporary superstars on the Mets, he may have been the most talented, but the least impressive. Beltran was possibly the greatest outfielder in Mets’ history and played with a grace and calmness that I don’t think I have ever seen. Wright has always gone as hard as he can, for as long as he can. He has been constant during his Mets’ career; to me he is the Mets. Santana has had the capability to put the team on his back and singlehandedly will them to victory. Reyes was a wildcard, the missing piece that never fit quite right. He would come to the plate sometimes and have an incredible at bat which would end in a triple, and the next at bat he would swing at the first pitch and pop-up. He always seemed to playing just short of his potential and liable to implode at any second.
Although "TRAIDing THE COUER" isn’t exactly what happened, maybe its for the best. It pains me to say it, but maybe giving the team to the young players like Duda, Davis and Tejada now will pay off. It doesn’t make it any easier now, but I think Tejada can be serviceable, and we have enough middle infield talent in the minors to eventually replace Reyes production to some extent. If this team can pull some positives and learn how to play together, I can live with losing Jose, because in the end if it came down to winning the World Series without Reyes, or not winning any rings with him, I would choose the rings.
Although I initially was incredibly angry at just about everyone involved, I have calmed a little bit and I think my main unrest rests in the lack of questions answered by the Reyes era. Because that’s what Reyes is, he is the kind of player that can define a team, and right now that might not be the best thing for these Mets.
So am I being rational or delusional? Let me know.