Well this just about brings it home, so to speak. Doesn’t it?
It promised to be an eventful day, but we just didn’t know how eventful. We awoke to “Jose Reyes Day” with Jason Bay hitting the disabled list with a fractured rib which he accrued by flailing and missing a fly ball. This we sort of expected. But then we find out that Mike Pelfrey (the other boo twin) is also being sent to the list with what may turn out to be possible ligament damage, and we might never see Pelfrey again as a Metropolitan. I gotta tell you: this isn’t how I had expected it to end for Pelfrey as a Met. I expected it to involve lots of boos, some guy with a giant hook, and perhaps a post game reenactment of a scene from The Hunger Games. But this? You never expect this. The one thing that isn’t surprising is that it came on the heels of Pelfrey’s best outing in a long, long time. Of course it did. From this, we learn that minimizing the damage on the field as Pelfrey finally learned to do, must put extra strain on your elbow and maximizes that kind of damage. (Well it’s as good as anything Ray Ramirez can come up with.)
There would have been a day where Mets fans would celebrate losing the boo twins. If Pelfrey’s injury was followed by the callup of a stud pitcher like Matt Harvey, there would be parades. If the Bay injury was the one that started the Kirk Nieuwenhuis era, there would be choruses of Bye Bye Bayby. (I know, that was bad, but c’mon … it’s two in the morning.) But Pelfrey and Bay leaving means a sharp uptick in the playing time of Mike Baxter and Chris Schwinden. Does this excite you? Or is your win probability shrinking by the minute? (And if so, should you see a physician about that?) The boo twins are no great shakes but them leaving us doesn’t exactly signal the start of the Dwight Gooden era.
So then came the game, and the return of our shortstop. In total, there seemed to be more boos than cheers for Reyes. I was in section 128 down the left field line which seemed to be on the fringe of the most concentrated area of Reyes supporters … whether it be Mets fans with Reyes jerseys, or the guys carrying the “Jose Reyes 2003-2011″ banner as if he died (no, that was just parts of all of us that died), or the group that was carrying the Dominican flag, or the two guys behind me with freshly bought orange Marlins caps that you could see on Google Earth from the widest setting. I heard a lot of accounts saying it was a mixed reaction. Being there, I thought “mixed” was generous. Lots of support from my area, lots of boos everywhere else, and a guy behind me saying “you know what would be great, if he stole second and tore his hamstring.” Because wishing bodily harm on others is fun for everyone.
But why take my word for it? Judge for yourselves:
There was one thing that bothered me throughout the whole evening (well two, if you count Jose’s half-hearted tip of the cap and rush back to the dugout after the video). And I’m not sure why it bothers me. You’re talking to a guy who wasn’t bothered by Reyes pulling himself after one at-bat to win the batting title, wasn’t bothered by his post-game newser where he was non-committal about where he wanted to spend 2012, and wasn’t even bothered by the fact that he took Miami’s money and ran. (Remember, Darryl Strawberry left a pretty good team to go to the Dodgers in 1991 after publicly dreaming of playing for them in 1988 … that hurt a ton more than Reyes.)
But this bothered me:
Take a look at this picture …
This was Reyes saying hello to a cameraman, presumably for the Mets. (Fraternizing with cameramen doesn’t bother me.) After this handshake the two had an extended conversation about something or other. Then just as Reyes finished his warmups, he did this:
I couldn’t help but wonder if Reyes signed autographs for the good will, or if he signed them because somebody needed a bump shot for their coverage. The cameras seemed to be a little too ready for Reyes going over to sign for some of the Mets faithful. I’m sure the lucky people that got an autograph could care less about this, nor should they. But it was a scene behind the curtain I’m not so glad that I saw. Reminded me too much of politicians kissing babies because a camera is around.
Then came the game and the fateful first at-bat as a Marlin for Reyes. Again, judge the boos/cheers split for yourselves (and enjoy the catch by Nieuwenhuis):
From that moment on, the boos only gained traction with every at-bat. But those hardcore Reyes fans never wavered. They were firmly in his corner throughout the game. Part of me thinks that half the boos were for Reyes, and the other half were for the people who were cheering Reyes. Made me wonder the moral dilemma the supporters would be under if Reyes actually got a hit. Or if there wasn’t a dilemma, would there have been a fight or two in the stands. Though this crowd wasn’t jazzed enough for that. This wasn’t like Strawberry’s return with the Dodgers, which I attended. That was a crowd of 47,744, and you knew exactly who came to support Strawberry and who came to support the Mets … because as soon as Straw tagged Frank Viola with a home run, that crowd of 47,744 instantly became a crowd of 27,744 as about 20,000 people left never to return. And that was about the total number of people who attended Tuesday night’s reunion.
Reyes went hitless, and so did most everyone through the first six innings as Josh Johnson matched zeroes with Johan Santana, who struck out an incredible 11 hitters through six and two thirds, bouncing back nicely from his horror show in Atlanta (and boosting his trade value … c’mon, you were thinking it.) But Santana once again was victimized by a lack of offense and shoddy fielding, as a Gaby Sanchez (who else) double in the seventh brought home the only run of the game for the Marlins as Mike Baxter bobbled the hop off the wall (showing why he might actually make us miss Jason Bay … or at least hope for a speedy return from Andres Torres so Nieuwenhuis can man left field) and Ron Hextall Josh Thole had the relay go five-hole on him to help score the run.
But the bottom of the seventh brought joy to the Mets, as with two outs and nobody on the Marlins gave the Mets four free passes (oddly enough from four different pitchers) to bring home the tying run. Ozzie Guillen is obviously attempting to become stronger at overmanaging to make up for his deficiency in discussing world affairs. The interesting moment in this inning was bringing in Randy Choate to face Ike Davis, and Terry Collins responding by pinch hitting with Justin Turner. Necessary evil, but a sad turn of events for Ike, who might be looked at to be part of a platoon with Dave Kingman if this keeps up (I make that lame joke to illustrate to you that Dave freakin’ Kingman was actually at Citi Field tonight. Dave Kingman! I thought the guy was a recluse. And he makes a public appearance? Well played, 50th anniversary!)
The bottom of the eighth saw the Mets take the lead for good as Lucas Duda slammed a ball of Edward Mujica for an infield single to score Nieuwenhuis for the margin of victory, and Frank Francisco saw his velocity return for his fourth save (and good thing since Turner, who pinch hit for Davis, was pulled for defense in the ninth making the lineup seriously deficient if the game had gone into extras). Just as with Straw’s return, the Mets win Jose Reyes’ return. And just as it was leaving Shea in May of 1991 to chants of “Dar-ryl, Dar-ryl”, there was one last “Jose, Jose Jose Jose” chant down the left field ramps at Citi Field to end Tuesday evening. Seeing as if he didn’t beat the Mets with a swing of his bat or a pump of his legs, it was safe to give him one final tribute. But now, once and for all, it’s over. We have seen the enemy. And he officially wears number seven in orange. And black. And yellow. And red-orange. And silver. And brighter orange. And some sort of blue that’s unrecognizable next to all those other colors.
He looks ridiculous, is all I’m trying to say.