Ladies and Gentlemen,
If you don't mind, this is my first post on AA. Long time reader (3+ years), converted and dedicated sabermetrician (if that is actually a word)
After hearing such negative responses to Reyes even before he officially won the batting title:
Jose Reyes decided to take himself out of the game after a bunt-single in the first inning of game 162 for the 2011 Mets. Per interview with Terry Collins at 5:15 PM on WFAN, Reyes had pitched the idea to Collins the day before the game, and Terry agreed to accept Jose's request to leave the game after a potential first-inning base hit. Terry complied with the request at gametime, but was found during the post-game interview IN TEARS when defending the question of whether or not he supported this decision. When told that the fans were upset that Reyes did not give his all to the paid attendees on game 162 (lack of playing time) , he rebutted with the statement (paraphrased) "that Jose had given up so much for the team and the fans this year, and that they owed him in return."
Immediate Francesca and WFAN caller response demanded a near-crucifixion of Reyes. How dare he not finish the arbitrary-determined at-bats of the final game of the season. Reyes is a bum. He did not comply with the expected gamesmanship of the league. For him to leave the game was a cowardly decision and only a scared wimpy scrub would refuse to take the final at-bats in fear of losing the title. Queue 364,000 references to Ted Williams 70 years ago. The final day of the season, batting a said .3995. He has the courage to play, goes 6/8. The mention of Wade Boggs in 1986 (correct?) and his sitting out the final series of the year prompts Mike to say (again paraphrase) "Well he did have to deal with injuries and his team was not in the Playoff hunt). He did go on to say he grilled Boggs at the time.
One WFAN caller made a poor but valiant attempt to liken Reyes's pursuit and decision to a football game where your team is up by X amount of points, with 1:00 left on the clock, with possession of the ball and no time-outs left for the opponent. Obviously said team will kneel and win the game. There is no competition left in this scenario, and Mike correctly called him out.
Mike then continued to challenge listeners for a good argument and comparison:
Enter Ribeyesteaks ( I did not have time to call WFAN). Let me at least offer a defense of Reyes.
I have a different perspective. Assuming equal between two parallels:
Here is the Baseball parallel:
Reyes is fighting against Braun for the batting title on the final game of the season. It has not been decided, the competition is still ongoing. Reyes has a slim lead.
After one hit, Reyes has increased his lead. He has the right to decide whether to FURTHER increase his lead, or sit out and maintain this lead. Either decision is fair, and depending on the player, one decision may be clearly seem a correct decision over the other. The player can choose his/her strategy to go with the most-likely probable scenario to win based on probability (e.g. sit down), or decide to be courageous and play the remainder of the game, numbers-to-the-wind and go for it all.
Here is the Football parallel:
Assume The Jets are playing the Dolphins for the win on the final week of the season. The teams are tied in the standings. The game has not been decided, the competiton is still ongoing. The Jets have a 4-point lead. Winner advances to the playoffs (if you consider the Playoffs equal to the batting title).
The Jets have drove the ball to the Dolphin's 43-yard line. It is 4th and 2 yards. The Jets have the right to decide whether to go for it on 4th down (further increase their lead or field position), or maintain this lead and punt for better field position. Either decision may be fair, but going for the first down would be considered a risky play at best, and at worst considered a greedy proposition for the coach in an attempt to pad statistics. A punt and retreat would be viewed as prudent.
So the team on the line goes against conventional wisdom. If you agree with conventional wisdom.