Posted in Baseball

Bush League

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Teddy Ballgame, a Real Champ

No, I’m not referring to George H.W. or to George W. Nor to the baked bean folks. I’m looking straight at you, Jose Reyes, along with your tin ear manager, Terry Collins, for the bush league shenanigans that happened the other day at Citifield on the occasion of the Mets’ last game of the season.

OK, Jose, we know you were vying for the National League batting title, and that you and Ryan Braun of the Brewers had averages that were only a few one hundred-thousandths apart. And yeah, Braun sat a game or two out during the final week to better his chances of winning the title. But that in no way gave you license to leave the game immediately after your first at-bat, when you reached first on a bunt single.

Braun is signed to a long-term contract. Reyes’ contract expired at the end of the regular season, and Wednesday, September 28th, probably marked his last game in a Met uniform. The fans knew it, and those in attendance came to cheer Reyes and give him his due. Instead he bailed after one at-bat, without ceremony of any kind. He later topped it off by stating that “the fans need to understand,” i.e., they needed to let him be selfish and back into the batting title by coming out of the game (For the record, if Braun had gone 3 for 4 in his last game, which he has done a number of times this season, the championship would have been his. Unfortunately he took an oh-fer).

I was watching that game on TV, and the boys in the booth, especially Keith Hernandez, went ballistic. Reference was made to Ted Williams, who could have opted to sit on the bench for the last day of the 1941 season in order to preserve his .400 average. Instead Teddy Ballgame insisted on playing a double-header in which he went 6 for 8, finishing at his immortal .406. Keith went so far as to say Reyes ‘ coming out of the game at that point was an example of “what’s wrong with people today,” and quite honestly, I agree. Several days before this, Reyes refused to hang in at second and muffed a double play, contributing to a Mets loss. Yes, what else is new, but his gingerly play for the last month to avoid injury and cop his “Carl Crawford money” is in essence throwing sand in the fans’ faces. Yes, Jose–we know you’re leaving, and at this point I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.

Ron Darling’s solution to the last game vs. batting title dilemma was a logical one: Manager Terry Collins should have kept Reyes in the game after his bunt single, had him take the field for the top of the second inning, and then sent his replacement in. This way the fans would have had a chance to acknowledge Reyes’ contribution to the team and he could have doffed his cap and strolled off the field in a champ’s exit. Instead he, Terry Collins and the Mets all colluded to look lousy and to deprive the fans of their due.

Speaking of lousy, the Red Sox would be crazy to fire Terry Francona as their manager. Far better to give him a vote of confidence and clean house by getting rid of malcontents.