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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Reyes Annus Horribilis

Perfect. Perfect bookends to a perfect year. Waking up on July 4, 2008 to read that Jose Reyes reportedly engaged in a “heated” confrontation with Keith Hernandez on board the Mets' flight a few nights earlier from New York to St. Louis — Keith didn't like the way Jose reacted to his throwing error during the final Subway Series game and let it be known in the course of that day's telecast — could only remind the overwrought Mets fan that we'd been down the what's-up-with-Reyes? road almost exactly a year before.

It was on the field, not on a plane…and in plain view, not via conflicting accounts…that we saw Jose Reyes tap a weak grounder down the third base line in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 6, 2007. Reyes thought it would go foul. He didn't run to first. Mike Lamb fielded the ball fair and threw him out by 80 or so feet. Willie Randolph immediately pulled him to teach him a lesson. Jose didn't look too happy about being schooled in so public a fashion, but he said more or less the right thing afterwards.

“It's my fault there,” Reyes declared in accepting his medicine, “but that thing can happen to anybody.”

Funny the things that happen to and around Reyes since then.

On a team for whom no more than half ever seems to go right, Jose Reyes' past year has veered to disaster far more often than not. That's taking into the good and wonderful stuff that's occurred since July 6, 2007: the All-Star laying on of hands by Willie Mays which seemed so appropriate in the emotion of the moment; the leadoff home run right out of the gate to open the second half, a sign — it seemed — that the momentary lapse of judgment in Houston was more molehill than Tal's Hill; the August crime spree of 17 consecutive successful steals, one of them setting the team record for thefts in a single season with more than a month to go; and this season's post-April statistical renaissance, culminating in current batting, on-base and slugging totals legitimately comparable to Jose's sainted 2006.

But who remembers any of that now? Now that Jose is…

• The guy who had to be benched because he didn't hustle;

• The guy who went into the tank in Philadelphia in late August and never climbed out for the balance of 2007;

• The guy who tried to steal third with Wright up and two out and there, hindsight says, went the season;

• The guy who didn't steal anything else except his paycheck the rest of the way;

• The guy whose intrinsic joy for the game was processed in too many quarters as chronic immaturity;

• The guy who celebrated too much or not enough;

• The guy who welcomed his new manager with a top-of-the-first tantrum;

• The guy who got himself picked off second by Andy Pettitte;

• And the guy who not only pulled Delgado off the bag on Melky Cabrera's grounder but took it out on his glove and his wristband on the field for all to see.

Now he's the guy who allegedly got into it with Keith Hernandez. I say allegedly because this was reported by the same beat writer who blew up Jerry Manuel's silly “fertilizer” remarks into a front-page scandal and I say allegedly because calmer, more reliable observers say that while Jose indeed expressed dismay to Keith and Keith took issue with Jose's interpretation, it didn't exactly amount to a Met melee among the clouds (I'm thinking it's telling that this happened Sunday night yet didn't make the paper in question 'til Friday).

But something did happen, and it happened to or around Reyes. Reyes worries about what somebody told him an announcer said. Reyes leans too far toward third. Reyes doesn't listen to Jerry Manuel. Reyes dances to his own beat without regard to consequence. Reyes raises his rabbit ears a little too high. Reyes runs to first now but didn't run then.

It's been quite a year for Jose Reyes since that Friday night in Houston. It is said as he goes, the Mets go. Over the last year, the Mets have gone nowhere.

4 comments to Reyes Annus Horribilis

  • Anonymous

    Not sure if you are damning him or exonerating him. Having said that, he's on pace for a very nice season, and it's hardly his fault that the Mets stink. Look to the performance of every pitcher on the staff at some point in the season…look to the rest of the lineup that likes to watch lolly pop curveballs fall in for a called strike three…look to a poor manager, then a poor replacement who puts Sanchez in to replace the ace who had thrown only 95 pitches…
    All in all, I think your shot at Reyes is a shot in the dark, like a blind man casting about for blame…
    But keep pointing fingers at him…in a few years he'll be eligible for free agency…wonder who will be laughing then.

  • Anonymous

    I really, really don't like the thought of Reyes getting in Mex's grill, either, but what happens on the bus or the plane should stay on the bus or the plane. Reyes definitely wasn't trying to show him up publicly. And, Hernandez emphasized that “confront” was the wrong word–that they had a conversation, not a confrontation. Who knows what really happened. All of the sources that described it as almost coming to blows at 30,000 feet were quoted anonymously in the 24-point headline gossip rag that is the New York Post. I have a little trouble believing that things could get THAT heated and Hernandez would still immediately take up for Reyes and say the reporter had gotten some bad information.
    Obviously Reyes is concerned about what Keith says about him from the booth. For good reason–Mets fans adore Keith.Their relationship with Reyes is a lot more complicated, and Shea has been in a sour mood all season. So he makes a bad throw in a big game and then drops his glove and helmet on the ground in a hamfisted effort to show everyone watching that he's pissed at himself. And it comes across the wrong way and he stews about it and he vents his frustration on Keith Hernandez–a totally inappropriate target if there ever was one. It reminds me of a lot of poorly considered bullshit I used to pull at 25.

  • Anonymous

    I thank Christ every day that nobody on Earth reported on the poorly considered bullshit I used to pull at 25 for any kind of public audience.
    And at 39, I suppose.

  • Anonymous

    To be honest, I'm not sure if I'm damning him or exonerating him either. It just struck me that it's been a very rough year for Reyes, almost a year to the day since stuff began happening to him or around him. Prior to Houston, I don't remember there being anything remotely “controversial” about him beyond “doesn't take enough pitches” early in his career. I find it very perplexing that he's become a lightning rod of sorts.
    And no, I'm not looking to replace him or chase him away (as if I could do that). I'm just trying to understand why this last year has unfolded as it has.