The most exciting player in baseball isn't sure what about the game excites him.
Jose Reyes takes about a dozen seconds to chew on the question – the same amount of time, give or take a second, it takes him to round the bases – and when he lifts his head, the answer comes not in the form of a nuance or a play but a peer.
"Derek Jeter," Reyes says. "Just the way he plays, it's very exciting."
To each his own, certainly. Perhaps Jeter – more the embodiment of steadiness than a highlight-in-waiting – personifies what Reyes wants: admiration, respect and championships. And while Reyes has the first in spades and the second in increasing volume, he hasn't been fitted for a World Series ring, nor have his New York Mets since 1986.
So with Pedro Martinez shut down for the season, Tom Glavine's health still in question and the remainder of the Mets' rotation iffy at best, even more of their playoff hopes, starting with the National League Division Series on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, rest on their offense.
It's an offense that revolves around and depends on Reyes, the 23-year-old shortstop who is hitting at a greater clip than expected, getting on base more and putting a jolt in the ball. Reyes has become the not-so-secret weapon of the NL, if not all of baseball, with the speed of a sprinter, power belying someone who weighs 160 pounds and dynamism unparalleled around the sport.
"He's electric," Carlos Beltran says.
"He's incredible," Carlos Delgado adds.
"He's different than anyone I've seen," Tom Glavine says.
Nor was he anything like the Mets had seen when they put Reyes in the lineup a day before his 20th birthday. The way he accelerated around first base when steaming toward third was something anyone could appreciate: sleek, efficient, no wasted motion – beautiful. Anyway, the Mets were stumbling badly, on their way to a 66-95 finish and platooning Rey Sanchez and Joe McEwing at shortstop. What did they have to lose?
Nothing, obviously, because Reyes stuck. Now in his fourth season, he has learned plate discipline, which was his biggest weakness coming into this year, and has added the power that scouts figured was somewhere in his sinewy frame. Not likely to forget what got him here, Reyes still led baseball with 64 stolen bases and legged out a big-league-best 17 triples.
"I'm just playing baseball," Reyes says. "I'm just trying to get on base and score runs. And if people think what I do is exciting, that's nice. I'm not trying to be."
Jose Reyes doesn't need to try.
He just is.