Tuesday, September 27, 2011

N.Y. METS ~ The Night The Curtain Came Down

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:  Don't Forget The Night We Sang Jose Reyes' Name All The Way Home.

With two games left in the season, are we seeing the last of one of the greatest Mets ever?

The last, most electrifying moment I had at Shea Stadium came while walking down the ramps as me and all my fellow 57, 000 Met Fans emptied our former home sweet home after winning Game Six of the 2006 NLCS, largely based on Jose Reyes' home run to lead off the game.  We sang Jose-Jose-Jose from our seats; through the aisles; and into the corridors of Old Shea; all the way down the ramps; into the parking lots; in our cars and all the way home as we all no doubt listened to the Happy Recap on the radio. 

Once the singing started early in the game, it never really stopped.  I was sitting in the upper deck that evening.  And being part of the red seats mass of Met humanity, I'm proud to have helped the upper deck literally rock up and down.  But it wasn't until leaving, that I had goose-bumps all the way down Shea's winding ramps, more so than I did during the game or even watching Jose Reyes round the bases in the first inning.  And for a night, I experienced magic again; you know...like when you were a kid kinda magic.  The magic of being ten years old and these guys being the greatest people in Orange and Blue pinstripes on the planet.  And it was damn-near one of the greatest nights ever to be a Met fan; period.

We sang!  We sang inside; outside; and across Roosevelt Avenue.  Woodstock would have been proud.

Little did we all know leaving Shea Stadium that glorious night, the curtain on this current Met show was coming down for good.  Hind-sight now takes it's course and so let it be written; October 18, 2006, goes down as our last greatest moment in Met history - authored by Jose Reyes.

With two days potentially left in his Mets' career, he's chasing down an encore to that night almost five years later.  Of course he's marvelled us since the 2006 season.  But now he's chasing a Batting Title.  No Met has ever won the batting championship before; just as no Met has ever won the Most Valuable Player Award.

But the most bitter-sweet aspect of this dilemma the Mets and the Fans find themselves in is Jose Reyes may win his batting title, but win it going away.  The songs will end this season for sure.  The schedule dictates that.  Then the songs will turn into pleas of  - Jose, Won't You Stay; Please Stay; Don't Go Away! Jose.

Good-byes are never easy between people who care about each other.  It's clear Jose Reyes has an affinity for us Fans, just as we have a great fondness for him.  There's an all encompassing phrase that with carefully selected usage; in context and content; all emotional ties are revealed and stand to be reaffirmed by the very declaration - He is one of us!

The thought of losing Jose Reyes; the healthy version; sickens me.  Honest.  Even the compromised Reyes is still enough of a favorite for me to want him continuing and ending his career as a New York Metropolitan.

But when I'm in my world and get to play GM, I base my opinions on what I think should be in the Mets' best interests in order to reach a high level of play and sustain long term success.  And when I think that way, I'm content to bring Jose Reyes back, but only under "my" so-called terms.

If his speculated price tag remains as reported.  I say we're out; and not because we may not be able to afford it.  My offer; stated previously in my blog; is for no more than five years and an average annual salary of  +/- $17.5 million.  I would not budge much further from that.  If he can get a better deal elsewhere, so be it.

I now believe it safe to say; although I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night; that Jose Reyes' legs are permanently damaged.  Perhaps on a microscopic level, there's deterioration that if not properly managed with scheduled time off, will continue to resurface as hamstring issues and plague his career; maybe sporadically; maybe often.  But the problem will not go away.

His leg(s) condition now dictates he plays roughly, a 145 games a season.  You now have to manage the stress of this bi-pedal creature very carefully now.  What if the team is in the middle of a "tight" race, and Reyes has been on a torrid streak of triples and doubles, and stolen bases and such?  Do you  schedule rest for him then?  Or, do the Mets press on and take their chances?  Alas, the root of the matter is risk.  His legs affect the Mets on many different levels.  Risk; how much of it does he pose?  And how much of it will Sandy Alderson assume by resigning him?

As he enters his physical prime; even if Jose continues to bat for average like this season; and still take his total package into consideration and value as a lead-off man; what if I said his rate of injury will continue as well?  If you knew going into negotiations on a new deal, would you still sign him at his price?  We don't know how much longer his legs will service him and us.  So again, it's all about managing Risk again. 

The Mets don't just sweep bad contracts under the rug as a matter of policy.  Sandy Alderson unloaded some in 2011, but they were needed demolition before reconstruction can begin.

Are we content with Jason Bay's contract?  At this moment, are you happy with Johan's deal?   David Wright's deal is coming around the corner.  How are you feeling about him?  If we sign Jose Reyes at his price, the moment he goes down, you know damn well, the phone boards across the metro area talk shows will blow up with cries of - Why Did We Do This?!  It will happen.  You know it.  I know it.

We booed Johan in his first start at Shea.  Yankee fans booed Jeter and ran him out of town before he turned himself around this season.  Mariano Rivera got booed once upon a time too.  What do both fan bases have in common?  We're New Yorkers!  We're going to complain whether we sign Reyes or not.

Part of the problem is that we all; including the Mets organization; have a semantics problem.  No one wants to officially declare this a Rebuilding of the Mets team.  That word keeps getting shushed around here like saying crap in front of your Grandmother.  And what I am vehemently opposed to is spending any more time chasing down carrots on a stick.

To err is easy. Doing the right thing, is hard. Some of the best decisions in life are quite often the most unpopular decisions ever made.  Jose Reyes will always remain in my Met heart of hearts. But the Mets must go on and finally right their ship and thereby get the organization functioning like a New York National League member should.

I'll sign him.  But not without the proverbial Home-Town Discount.

I love Jose Reyes.  But my Baseball Heroes from when I was a more impressionable boy; all the way through the 80's; and through today; were New York Metropolitan Baseball players.  They didn't come from the Reyes Family tree.  Jose Reyes is not a matter of money.  With him, Risk rules the day.  While his injuries were often times frustrating for us, sometimes, they proved ruinous to the team.

Our destiny lies elsewhere now; with other players; and future players.  I would have loved as much as you, to have Jose Reyes go down as a life-long Met and be owner of a vast array of our team records.  He's done so much of the re-writing already.  But, perhaps it's not meant to be.  Two parties need to sit down and reach an agreement in order for that to happen.  But one of the parties is in kind of a dire straights right now.  And the other party just admitted he's not fully healthy yet and is weary of running full steam.

What now?  Here come the brewing storm clouds high above Citi Field.  The clash between the Business Side of Baseball versus the Business Shenanigans of a Baseball Owner is fast approaching.  The Jose Reyes- N.Y. Mets saga will soon start to swirl about under the ever darkening and threatening skies thundering above Flushing Bay.  Early forecasts call for off-season rain.

Watch the last two games of the season or go to Citi and watch him in person.  But don't let the games apathetically slip by.  Hind-sight is always right.  But when hind-sight re-enters this conversation one day, we'll hash out the rights and wrongs of the Mets actions then.

Don't forget that night in 2006 when a city sang his name all the way home.


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