When All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes left the New York Mets this past winter, it was very hard for me. As a New Yorker, I really didn't know how to react, since dealing with high-profile free agents leaving New York was just not a concept I was very familiar with. While it's not as if the Mets ever won as much with Jose as they did with someone like Mike Piazza, Reyes was (and still is) an incredibly special baseball player, one that is already very badly missed in the Mets clubhouse. Between his speed, his bat, his glove and his infectious smile, Jose Reyes was a true fan favorite.
Though the Mets' 2011 season was mostly unmemorable, it was truly a remarkable time for Jose, and he was really the only reason why I continued to watch the team on a daily basis even in the month of September when they had already been out of the pennant race for several weeks. But then, the season ended, and questions had to be answered. Jose had just won the batting title, the Mets were out of money and the newly formed Miami Marlins were ready to spend all the money in the world to ensure that they could compete in 2012 as something more known than just an underdog.
Now let's think about this logically, in the shoes of Jose Reyes. Pretend you are one of the top players in baseball and you have arguably been so for the past several seasons. You've mostly been playing for a losing team that is not likely to give you the kind of money that you want, so as a functional human being, you at least want to see what kind of offers you would get by testing out the free agent market. Then, Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria approaches you and says, "Hey, I'll give you over $100 million to play in sunny Miami, Florida over the next six years for a franchise that is clearly in the business of winning not in a few years, but now." Now, doesn't that sound like the kind of deal you might take? I certainly think so, particularly if I'm being given the chance to play in the same division that I know for a fact I can hit well against.
So when Jose Reyes comes back to Citi Field, give the man the respect he deserves. He treated us with incredibly exciting baseball over the past several seasons, and he doesn't deserve to be booed just because he left a franchise that, at least at the end of 2011, appeared to be in shambles. He simply took a deal that was too good to turn down, and although it wasn't what many of us ideally would have liked, it was what had to happen.
Some fans are angry with the Mets' intention to show a short video tribute preceding Tuesday's game. They think he somehow "betrayed" the Mets by not only leaving but also joining a "division rival" in Miami. Come on, folks. The Miami Marlins are not a true "division rival". And I can tell you that based on my time in the Mets clubhouse throughout 2011, Jose Reyes wanted to remain a New York Met. He really did. But, the offer wasn't right. Whether this was because the front office was financially challenged or other reasons, Fred Wilpon and Sandy Alderson just couldn't match what the Marlins had to offer, so Jose left for Miami, or I suppose, "took his talents to South Beach." As for tomorrow, it's not as if the Mets are making it "Jose Reyes Day" or giving him a shiny new car, they're simply presenting a video to show them that despite the unfortunate end to his relationship with the Mets, the organization still and will always appreciate the joy that Jose brought to Queens for so many years. While he might be in a different uniform, I'm looking forward to seeing Jose again this week, just as I always have.