25 April 2012

Thoughts on the Reyes "homecoming"

I was just now able to watch the start of Tuesday night's game, which of course marked Jose Reyes' return to Citi Field. Gary, Keith, and Ron seemed practically shocked--shocked, I tell ya--at the crowd's tepid response to Reyes--much like so many others seemed practically shocked that the notion of a tribute video wasn't met with unanimous fan support.

Seriously, what's so hard to understand about this? When the whole video thing first hit, the idea of greeting Reyes with such a tribute was defended with comparisons to the returns of Mike Piazza and my own man-crush, Edgardo Alfonzo. The circumstances aren't even close, however.

In the cases of Piazza and Alfonzo, both, while still servicable major-league players, were clearly on the downhill sides of their careers. The Mets made the concious yet mostly amicable decision to not re-sign them in order to make room for the future of the team. Piazza and Alfonzo both appeared to at least begrudgingly--and in Piazza's case, fully--understand the the team's choice and went out of their way to thank Mets fans for their support during their respective heydays (as much as I'd love to link a photo of Fonzie's "Thank You" cab ad, I'm on Blogger for iPod right now, and I'm afraid that would end up taking all night).

Reyes, on the other hand, left the team at the age of 28 for a bigger paycheck, period. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but when it's the player making the cold business decision, one has to expect a proportionately cold shoulder from the fans in return.

Jose Reyes' story isn't one that causes sympathetic feelings of "We hate that your wonderful career is coming to a close" because that's not what happened. Reyes simply went to the highest bidder (again, not that there's anything wrong with that).

And of course it doesn't help that when Reyes DID have the fans' sympathy and the "we'll miss you" vibe was at its apex, he walked out on his farewell game after one at-bat in order to ensure his batting title. That was a Jose-first move that robbed fans of seeing him play that one last game as a Met. While the virtue of his bunt-and-run exit is debatable, there's no doubt some fans felt cheated. Having your last act in the uniform leave a bad taste in the fans' collective mouth is not how you go about ensuring a warm and fuzzy "Welcome back."

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