Mets fans booing Reyes wasn’t a crime

Here’s something I can’t stand: A journalist telling fans who they should cheer for. In the wake of last night’s booing of Jose Reyes, Bergen Record columnist Bob Klapisch decided to take Mets fans to task for disrespecting the star shortstop.

I know fans sometimes can act out of line. I’m not for any sort of violence or yelling of obscenities. I know I was frightened at some of the things I heard at Giants Stadium when I was a kid, and I’m in favor of keeping the stadium a family friendly environment. However, if fans want to boo a guy, they should boo a guy. Especially if he’s on the other team, and especially if he left the home team for a rival organization. It wouldn’t hurt if the player in question flat out quit in his last game with the home team.

I’m still not sure if Reyes deserved to get booed last night, but I do know that he didn’t deserve the sort of adoration he got when he played for the Mets. Klapisch says that Mets fans should be embarrassed by the reception they gave Reyes.

Reyes did nothing wrong signing with the Marlins, the only team to offer him a contract last winter. The idea that Reyes is a traitor — or “garbage” as he was taunted during batting practice — isn’t just bad revisionist history, it’s an insult to the legacy of the most complete player to ever wear a Mets uniform.

Yes, it’s true that Reyes is one of the best players in Mets history, and it’s true that the Mets did not make a significant offer to attempt to retain him. Here’s what’s also true:

  • Reyes never was part of a team that won a National League pennant
  • Reyes is playing for a division rival that knocked the Mets out of the playoffs on the last game of the season in 2007 and 2008
  • Reyes chose to sit down in the last game of the 2011 season. Instead of helping his team win the game and giving the loyal fans a proper send off, he sat in the hope that it would help him win a batting title.

Winning. Loyalty. Selflessness. These are the things that fans care about. They are also three things that are mostly absent from Reyes’ resume. A lot of fans don’t care about how many triples he hit or how exciting he was to watch because it didn’t result in even one NL pennant. A lot of fans don’t care that Reyes never got a real offer from the Mets because no matter what he was going to get oodles more money than the average fan can even think about.

Then there’s the fact that he’s playing for the Marlins, which Klapisch never even brings up. Yesterday I quoted Matt Cerrone, who is disgusted to see Reyes wearing the Miami uniform because of the hatred he holds for the franchise. This is one of the things that drives fans nuts: when players don’t care about rivalries. Just look at Johnny Damon. Dude was part of the 2004 Red Sox team that finally won the World Series after 86 years. How much love did he get when he came back to Fenway as a Yankee? Not a whole lot.

Yeah, I understand that Yankees vs. Red Sox is in a whole different galaxy than Mets vs. Marlins, but Damon was part of a legendary championship team that will live on for decades. Reyes was part of one division championship.

It’s true that Reyes never swore to not play for the Marlins, but his decision to play for a rival combined with his selfish self-benching at the end of last season was plenty of reason for fans to be upset. Sometimes it works out and a player can get both the money he wants and the adoration he feels he deserves. Other times, there’s a choice. For Reyes, the money he got from Miami probably made it worth sacrificing a possible retired number at Citi Field, but he can’t have both now.

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