Last night I was watching the Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles add another chapter into the book of their great rivalry. Prior to the game, there was a video montage of the Miami Hurricanes of old. You know, the teams everybody just loved to hate. They were mean, they were cocky, but they were real, real good.
I wish I could remember who said it, but the quote was, “If you don’t like my dancing, keep me out of the end zone.” It occurred to me that this is the attitude the Mets need to have with Jose Reyes.
In 2006, the Mets got beat. They didn’t beat themselves like in 2007 or 2008, they just got beat by a team who’s time had come. Were the Mets better than the Cardinals in 2006? Most likely, but when you push an LCS to a Game 7, and that game is close going into the late innings, anything can and usually does happen.
After the Mets lost that series, a much publicized celebration went on in the visitor’s clubhouse at Shea Stadium in which the St. Louis Cardinals mocked the Jose chant that Mets fans cheer when Reyes is up to bat in a big spot. They certainly were not mocking Reyes for a poor series performance. Reyes hit .281 in that series, and single handedly set the tone for Game 6 (I was there) when he lead off the bottom of the 1st with a Homerun. They weren’t mocking Reyes, they were mocking us.
We all know what happened in 2007 and 2008. The Florida Marlins in particular wanted to beat the Mets more than anything. They hated how guys like Reyes acted in the dugout, and as they congratulated teammates for their achievements. The Phillies have made comments about this as well, and even though the defending champion Phillies couldn’t take care of the Mets themselves in 2008, they have guys saying that Reyes wouldn’t fit into their clubhouse, and they don’t like how he acts when he’s in uniform. (Never mind the fact that Chase Utley dropped an F bomb directed at NY/All Star Game fans in 2008 when they boo’d him… dancing is worse I guess)
The constant discussions and debates about what the Mets need to do in 2010 can grow tiring. The only way to know what the Mets can do in 2010 is to wait and see what the winter holds not only for upcoming free agents, but also players who may or may not become available.
In 2006, Reyes had his best year to date at the plate. He was exactly what the Mets were hoping and expecting him to be. He brought energy not only to the Mets on the field, but to the fans sitting in the seats. When the Cardinals won that game, the attention shifted to whether or not the Mets should tone it down in the dugout. The handshakes, and the dancing all started to dwindle down because our opponents didn’t want this team to look like they were having fun while winning. It’s impossible to please some people. Most say they want to see a team with character, and see a teams true personality out there. Then, the business men and naysayers claim this is a business and they should take it seriously. It seems to me in the year that Reyes wasn’t taking it “seriously,” he was also hitting .300 and finished 7th in NL MVP voting.
Anybody who thinks trading Reyes (assuming he’s 100% healthy by April) is out of their mind. He is 26 years old, and when he’s on his game he is one of the best SS’s in all of baseball. He brings something very few players in the game can bring right now to a team. Sure, he’s going to make mistakes. Not everybody can be Mr. Perfect on the field. Inside Citi Field, if healthy, Reyes will put up numbers that Mets fans have only dreamed about. Citi Field was built for two types of players. Pitchers, and Jose Reyes.
I’m tired of hearing the complaints about how the Mets “act,” or how other teams don’t like the Mets. You know what? Good. You think teams like the Yankees? Of course not, but you know what? They win, because they don’t cater to their critics or how other teams in their league view them. As for free agents wanting to play for teams they “dislike”, I call bluff on that as well. No free agent is going to turn down a winning Mets franchise because a few of their players like to dance.
The Mets need to quit trying to act like other teams, and get back to what they were good at. They were better than everybody else in 2006, they played like it, and they acted like it. They knew they were the best team in the NL, and they didn’t care what the Cardinals, Phillies, Marlins or Nationals thought about them. You know why? Because at the end of the day, the story was that those teams just lost a game to the team they hate. It starts with Reyes. If teams do not like his dancing, and his handshakes, then you know what? Keep us out of the end zone. The Mets need to let Jose be Jose, and as John Stearns put it, let the monster out of the cage.