An Examination of the Jose Reyes Signing
A woman is on the hotel bed before her husband pulls her off the bed. He proceeds to push her. When that isn’t enough, he grabs her around the throat and throws her into a sliding glass door leading out to a balcony. There’s an ensuing crash that stirs security.
The husband and wife are separated by security. The wife requests a medic to come to the hotel to treat injuries to her left leg and scratches to her throat – the same throat her attacker grabbed before throwing her into a glass door. When medics arrive to treat, it’s agreed she should get further treatment at the hospital. During the time period she is separated from her husband, the wife cooperates with the police and gives them sufficient information to file a police report and have the District Attorney’s Office proceed with pressing charges against the husband.
The prosecution is ready to go to trial. However, the trial never happens. The victim wife refuses to cooperate. The husband now is a free man. If you didn’t know it by know, that’s what we know happened with Jose Reyes and his wife.
Yes, there are various people saying there could have been any number of things that could have happened in the room that have gone unreported. That is undeniably true. You could say there was alcohol or that she was antagonizing him verbally or that she had the audacity to fight back causing Reyes to escalate the violence. There are a number of scenarios you could conjure up to make the October 31, 2015 incident between Reyes and his wife seem better or worse depending on your point of view. No matter what you think might have or could have transpired, we don’t know anything different from Reyes’ wife’s account as no one has presented anything contradicting her statements to the police. Even if you have a doubt in your mind as to everything that transpired, Reyes still hit his wife, and that is inexcusable.
To say the Rockies thought so as well when they released him is not being completely honest. The Rockies’ shortstop of the future, Trevor Story, has played well enough that they don’t need Reyes. There is no way you’re considering Reyes at third when you have Nolan Arenado. Same goes for second with DJ LeMahieu. It was easy for them to take a principled stand when they had no room for a greatly diminished Reyes on the roster. It’s a whole other matter when you actually have a need for Reyes as the Mets apparently think they do know when they signed him to presumably play third base.
WHY THE REUNION MAKES SENSE
As a pure baseball decision, a Mets-Reyes reunion makes sense. He Reyes is flat out a better ballplayer than Eric Campbell and Ty Kelly. Even with how well he’s played since his recent call-up, it’s hard to fathom that Matt Reynolds is a better baseball player than Reyes. Maybe, just maybe, you could argue that he’s a better everyday option than Wilmer Flores despite having never played third base in the majors. In that sense you can understand the signing.
Another reason for the reunion is because everyone remembers what Reyes used to be. As a Met, he was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 11 triples and 41 stolen bases a year. He was electric in the field and on the base paths. He’s the Mets all-time leader in stolen bases and triples. He’s the best shortstop in Mets history. He was a beloved player, and many wish he never left the Mets in the first place.
However, as is apparent with that October 31, 2015 incident, Reyes is not who Mets fans think he is.
WHY REYES ISN’T A FIT FOR THE ROSTER
Since he left the Mets, Reyes has gotten progressively worse. Last year when the Blue Jays were chasing their first playoff berth since 1993, they moved Reyes, who had become a liability, for Troy Tulowitzki. At that time, Reyes was only hitting .285/.322/.385 with no triples and only 16 stolen bases. When he went to the Rockies, he complained about the trade and openly stated he wanted out. He finished the year hitting .259/.291/.368 in Coors Field of all places. He played a poor shortstop in both places.
Both Coors Field and the Rogers Centre are known as hitter’s parks, and last year Reyes didn’t hit much in either park. Clearly, the Mets hope is that Reyes will be rejuvenated by becoming a Met again. It’ll be interesting to see if it comes to be especially since Citi Field is decidedly less hitter friendly than either ballpark Reyes called home last year. In the event Reyes doesn’t produce, the Mets will be left in a difficult situation as they may need to bench Reyes. Seeing how he reacted in Colorado, it is fair to question how he would accept a benching.
Ultimately, you could understand the Mets rolling the dice on Reyes if the other options didn’t work. However, the Mets haven’t tried everything.
Earlier in the year, the Mets passed on Ruben Tejada even though he was better than Reyes last year, has actually played third base, and did a good job as a utility player for the Mets last year. The Mets still haven’t tried Dilson Herrera at second base this year like they had done in years past. The Mets made this move before finding out if Yusilesky Gourriel could be a viable option for the team this year. There are other options on the trade market as well.
However, the Mets decided to sign Reyes despite the fact that he may be a distraction (aside from any perceived clubhouse issues that arose in Colorado). The Mets will have to address the domestic violence issues upon officially signing Reyes. They may have to do it more frequently than that. There may be various advocacy groups who seek to have protests or other efforts to denounce the Mets and Reyes. It’s the type of situation the Mets tried to separate themselves from back in 2010.
THE K-ROD INCIDENT
In 2010, it was alleged Francisco Rodriguez unleashed a verbal tirade against his girlfriend. When her father sought to intervene, K-Rod proceeded to punch him. He continued to punch him and bang the man’s head against a wall. The Mets initially put K-Rod on the restricted list for two days. When it was discovered K-Rod injured his thumb in the altercation, the Mets put K-Rod on the disqualified list and withheld the remaining $3.1 million from his 2010 salary. They further sought to make his contract non-guaranteed, but ultimately backed off that stance once K-Rod filed a grievance.
Unlike Reyes, the charges were not dropped against K-Rod. In the offseason, he would plead guilty to the misdemeanor. Part of his sentence was to undergo therapy. Presumably, this therapy is similar in nature to the therapy Reyes is currently undergoing as part of his MLB suspension.
It is worth mentioning that in 2012 K-Rod was arrested again for domestic violence. In this incident, it was alleged that he struck his girlfriend in their home (different girlfriend than the one he had in 2010). K-Rod would not stand trial for this incident as the alleged victim recanted her story that K-Rod caused her injuries, and the two key witnesses were flown back to Venezuela.
In that offseason, K-Rod would re-sign with the Milwaukee Brewers who cheered him after each and every strikeout and each and every scoreless appearance. It was not too dissimilar to how the Mets fans cheered K-Rod in 2011 when he recorded 23 saves before being traded to the Brewers.
When Reyes ultimately steps back on the field, he is going to be cheered again by Mets fans. He will be greeted with JOSE! chants. This really shouldn’t come as any surprise.
Ultimately, fans want to cheer for players no matter how despicable they are. Anyone who read the book, The Year the Bad Guys Won, knows about the various and sundry issues with the 1986 Mets. There was Darryl Strawberry and his having fist fights with his wife. There was Dwight Gooden‘s problem with drugs that go so bad he missed the championship parade because he was high at his dealer’s apartment in the projects. Ron Darling, Tim Teufel, Bob Ojeda, and Rick Aguilera got into a bar fight in Houston where they assaulted bouncers who turned out to be off-duty police officers. This is just a snippet of the problems with this team. Still, these players are forever revered and will be cheered wherever they go now matter what happens.
They are cheered because they produce. It’s the same way with this team. Terry Collins is beloved by many. However, many overlook his past drunk driving conviction. Bartolo Colon can seemingly do no wrong except when it comes to using steroids and failing to pay child support. There are Mets who have done far worse than either of these guys. Some of these acts are know. Others aren’t. Still, fans cheer them for their performance on the field. In that way, Mets fans are no different than other fans. We have to look no further than the Yankee fans cheering Aroldis Chapman in his first game back from his own suspension.
WHAT FANS ARE ACTUALLY CHEERING
Still, when Mets fans are cheeering Reyes, they are cheering for a player that beat his wife to the point where she needed to go to the hospital.
Furthermore, most Mets fans, even those who didn’t want Reyes in the first place, still want the team to succeed. Most will cheer him if he makes a big defensive play or gets a big base hit. Mets fans cheered Bobby Bonilla when he got hits, and there may be no more reviled Met than him (NOTE: only comparing fan reception as Bonilla has never been charged with a crime). You may not want Reyes on the team, but you want the Mets to succeed. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of Reyes, that means you too want Reyes to succeed.
If all goes according to plan, Reyes will be an important part of the Mets, and he will help the Mets win the World Series. If that is the case then in some sick, twisted way, you could say the best thing that happened to the 2016 Mets was the October 31, 2015 incident.
WHERE I STAND
Being completely honest, I’m going to root for the Mets whether or not Reyes actually plays for them this year. Even if I won’t purchase any tickets directly from the Mets, I will still use the tickets in my possession. When Reyes comes up to bat or makes an error, I’ll boo. I’m not going to participate in any JOSE! chants. When he gets a hit or makes a good defensive play, I’ll cheer. It’s the same way I reacted to Bobby Bonilla, even if that is an unfair comparison.
For Reyes, I want him to be worth it. I want him to do more than show he’s atoned. I want him to speak out on the matter (even if it’s complicated as the statute of limitations has not expired). I want him to show he’s a better person for having gone through this incident. Whether or not October 31, 2015 was an isolated incident, I want the physical altercations between him and his wife to cease. I want his family to be safe.
On the field, I want the Mets to win the World Series this year no matter who is on the roster. With that said, it will be a bit unsettling having Reyes be an important part of the equation. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that the Mets might be able to win a World Series because Reyes beat his wife. Having Reyes contribute will take some of the joy out of winning – whether it be a game or a World Series.