The only thing that surprised me about the bunt-and-exit by Jose Reyes yesterday was that his manager, Terry Collins, agreed to it. And even if he didn’t have the final say and orders came down from above (like from Reyes’ agent, maybe), he should have tackled Reyes and forced him back to first base. But I can’t really fault Collins. He gave more of himself than anyone in a Mets uniform this seaosn.
As for the enigmatic Reyes, I’m glad he won the first batting crown in Mets history — maybe now they’re ready to shoulder the burden of their first ever no-hitter — but I’d feel better if he accomplished it without controversy. Then again, he is Jose Reyes.
In 1941, Ted Williams went into the final day of the season (a doubleheader) with his average at .400. He could have sat out those meaningless games. But Williams would have sooner passed on salmon season than miss an at bat. He went 6-for-8 in the doubleheader (yes, he played all of both games) and finished at .406. And at the time, Williams had no idea that the .400 mark would remain untouched for the next 70 years. If he did, he still would have taken his eight at bats.
Of course, Jose Reyes is not Ted Williams. Nobody is. But what Teddy Ballgame did on that final day of the season is how you play the game. Put it all on the line, every single game. For much of his tenure with the Mets, which I believe has ended, Jose Reyes played just that way. But he had a habit of pulling back on the reins and that will tarnish his legacy. Spectacular play — like his two-homer effort on Tuesday night, which I was fortunate to have witnessed in person — followed by a staged early exit-show to protect his fragile stats. That’s been a familiar pattern for the Mets’ shortstop.
If he left after three at bats, with his average at .336 or better, I could deal with that. But one bunt single, in the first inning, at home in what is likely your last game as a Met? The allegedly 28,000 brave and loyal souls who showed up for yesterday’s finale deserved better. They paid to see Jose play a full game, at full tilt, the way he played most of this season.
Maybe Jose is due for a nice little bonus with his batting title and perhaps it gives him added leverage when he starts negotiating for “Carl Crawford” money. But his quick exit left a stink bomb that will add a lingering smell to the burned-out wreckage of another disappointing season.