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To Cheer or Jeer Jose Reyes: A Mets’ Fan’s View
With Jose Reyes officially a member of the Miami Marlins and Spring Training about to start for the New York Mets, this fan can't help but look to the future to the first time Reyes returns to Queens. He spent eight years there, and his return will make headlines in all the local papers.
There will be lots of reminiscing about the highs and lows of Reyes tenure with the Mets. Various highlights will be shown of the spectacular plays during his days in the blue and orange, his inside-the-park-home run, his stolen bases, and his infield hits. Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez will discuss at length what the loss of Reyes means to the Mets and their fans and the impact he is having in Miami.
But what will it mean to the countless Mets fans? What will they do when Reyes steps up to the plate in those garish Marlins uniforms? Will they boo him for leaving Queens and seeking more money or will they cheer him for the memories he created while there?
Without a doubt, it will be some combination of boos and cheers. This isn't like when Mike Piazza came back to Shea Stadium after he joined the Padres. The difference is that the team made it well known before the end of the season they would not be offering Piazza a contract when his ended while Reyes chose to go to a new team as a free agent. The Mets made Mike a tear-inducing video package but Jose's lasting image will be of him walking off first base and into the dugout after beating out an infield hit. Piazza came back as a hero but there's a chance Reyes returns as a villain who pulled himself in the first inning of his last game to protect his batting title.
I can't condemn the fans who seem set on booing Jose. I'm sure some feel slighted he left, while others just might not be fans of his. The frustration of Mets fans with Reyes during his career was telling. Fans were upset when he was injured constantly, irritated when he made errors in the field, and downright angry when his production wasn't there. Those fans were probably happy to see him go but will relish the chance to let him know what they think of him. When you consider this prospect, the whole idea becomes kind of silly. Booing Reyes because he left the team for another would be like jeering an ex for breaking up with you. Sure, it might make you feel a little better but it ultimately makes you realize you're focused on the past.
I, however, won't be among them. As frustrated as I occasionally became with Reyes over the past eight seasons, he was still one of the reasons I watched the Mets during losing seasons. Seeing him laugh and smile made it seem as though he generally had fun playing the game. I enjoyed seeing him get dirty in the first inning diving back to first base after taking a suicide lead before inevitably trying to steal second. When I was lucky enough to see a game in person, I was able to appreciate just how fast he travelled on the base paths.
On April 24th, Reyes will return to New York. He'll come up as the first hitter for the Marlins, giving fans a chance to either cheer or jeer him. If it's mostly boos raining down upon him, he probably won't give it a second thought. However, if it's mostly cheers, which I hope it is, maybe he'll step out of the box for a moment and tip his cap.
Either way, it's going to be interesting to see what happens.
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