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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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You Can’t Go ‘Jose Jose Jose’ Again

The Mets’ hypothetical reacquisition of Jose Reyes always goes very well in my head, at least until he pulls a muscle getting off the plane at LaGuardia. I regularly try to see his homecoming happening but I can never see it going well. But now that our all-time shortstop is sort of in flux — having been sent almost as packing peanuts with prospects from Toronto to Colorado for Never Met Troy Tulowitzki — Reyes seems more hypothetically available than ever.

In the sense that he might be traded again by an organization that isn’t necessarily interested in keeping him around, he’s out there for the taking, or at least the talking. As this is the week when even the most nonsensical deal is one phone call from making all the sense in the world, do we want Jose back?

In my heart, yes.

In my heart of hearts, absolutely.

In my heart of heart of hearts…geez, did he just strain a ligament sliding into third heart?

That’s the problem, besides all the compensation he is owed and the ownership that is enormously unlikely (and probably unwilling let alone unable) to court it. Something will go wrong if we rebook the services of 32-year-old Jose Reyes, who only seems forever 23 because that’s how we remember him. If you close your eyes, nobody’s ever been younger longer. When you open them, no matter how much you loved him then and maintain at least a flicker of a torch for him now, Jose isn’t quite the Jose of Jose-Jose-Jose halcyon days.

Maybe he doesn’t have to be. Diminished Jose (Jo-Jo-Jo?) might automatically become, like everybody else who’s come aboard with a bat lately, the best player the Mets have. In essentially a two-month season, his job would be to help our team make up three games. It’s perfectly conceivable he’d hit leadoff like a leadoff hitter, he’d run more than anybody here is capable of, he’d be an upgrade over the revolving incumbents at his position and he’d make us damn glad to meet him again.

Until we regretted reigniting the whole thing, because, as if it needs repeating, he’s not the Jose-Jose-Jose anymore. He could stay in one piece but struggle regardless. Triples of yore could become close calls at second. Defensive outs could become singles. What was once that grin of impetuous youth could, after a week of not succeeding despite really trying, turn sullen, which would be a human reaction, but with Jose, you’re sort of paying for the smiling as much as the stealing.

Also, it’s not going to happen. This ownership only sanctions the slightest of midseason contractual commitments and this front office reportedly has its eyes on everybody but Jose Reyes. If it somehow could happen, I would welcome him back with open arms — and then brace to catch him when he slips, falls, does something to his hamstring and waits to be examined by Ray Ramirez.

Because of our provinciality where Jose is concerned, I might be missing the bigger story, namely that Tulowitzki was shipped internationally in the dead of night. I enjoyed believing for a few minutes this past winter that he might become Troy of Flushing. I thought of him hard when I heard this portion of a Zach Galifianakis monologue in Birdman:

“As soon as we announced he was taking over, the advance doubled, and that took less than a day…this is about being respected and validated, remember?”

This was post-Cuddyer, when anything seemed possible, including the renaissance of Michael Cuddyer (think the Rockies would take him back for Reyes?). I pictured Tulo as a latter-day Gary Carter in terms of stirring up excitement, strengthening the offense, leading us to the edge of the promised land and making us a surefire contender. Now he’s a Blue Jay and we seem to be a contender anyway.

What gets me a little is Tulowitzki was The Man in Colorado and there he goes, off to Canada. That must be a blow to Rockies fans. I’m sure there’s a sophisticated cluster in Denver that will tell you it’s an excellent move for bloodless reasons A, B & C, but he was basically their David Wright and they unloaded him and his sizable contract because he wasn’t getting them any closer to where they ultimately need to go.

It killed me in December of 2011 when Reyes was allowed to walk. It relieved me in December of 2012 when Wright was secured through 2020. I wanted both of them to be careerlong Mets, something we know almost nobody of consequence (ahem) has ever been. Reyes was a really good player, Wright was a really good player and I was a really sentimental fan.

I still am, but the comings and goings of trading deadline time make you think. Juan Uribe got my attention twice this weekend, once for the game-winning hit on Sunday, once for something he said afterwards regarding his new best friends:

“This is my team. It’s a good team. In baseball, you never know.”

That could have been just boilerplate, but consider Uribe’s past. He was part of a White Sox team that had all but plummeted through the floor in September of 2005. A month later they were world champions. In the middle of 2010, he was with the Giants, who were languishing behind the Padres all season long after being playoffless since 2003. They made a few moves, stayed close and clinched their division on the final day of the year. Soon enough, Uribe was wearing a second ring.

Obviously he’s due for another in 2015. Beyond that sound chronological assessment, it strikes me that for all the great Giants of generations past, it was Juan Uribe, Cody Ross (ick) and Pat Burrell (also ick), among others, who brought San Franciscans what they’d been waiting forever for. And for all the legendary White Sox who wore the Pale Hose, it fell to the likes of Juan Uribe, Scott Podsednik and old friend Carl Everett, among others, to end an 88-year drought.

Yes, in baseball, you never know, except you can kind of guess your cast of characters won’t be exactly who you think it will be when you envision the day your fondest dreams come true. You won’t ask for ID as the ticker tape falls, though. You’ll cheer Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard and whoever else (hypothetically) does it for you.

Trading deadline frenzy coincides with Hall of Fame weekend, which makes for a pair of reminders that baseball is a business, sentimentality be damned. Randy Johnson, the greatest lefthander of his generation, has the names of six franchises engraved on his plaque. Pedro Martinez has five, including ours. John Smoltz, forever and ever a Brave stalwart, has three. Craig Biggio, nothing but an Astro, was the outlier. Craig Biggio never won a World Series. His three contemporaries all won one, then went on to be employed elsewhere. Immortality is no guarantee of permanence, whether you crave it or not.

Meanwhile, as we are borne back ceaselessly into the present, Jose Reyes moves along to his fourth team, possibly en route to a fifth, probably not about to return to his first. Juan Uribe is on his sixth, Kelly Johnson his eighth, Tyler Clippard his fourth. Reyes remains one of my favorite players ever, regardless of fabrics and colors. If he’s still a Rockie when the Rockies come to Citi, I’ll give him a nice hand and root for him to not do all that great. Uribe, Johnson and Clippard I’ve given no more than passing thought to until very recently. I’ll be rooting for them constantly as long as they’re here. I’ll root for whoever Sandy Alderson gets next, too.

Let’s Go Mets, whoever you are.

18 comments to You Can’t Go ‘Jose Jose Jose’ Again

  • Dave

    Most telling statistical evidence he’s not Jose Jose Jose anymore…in the past 3 seasons he has hit a grand total of 4 triples, including none this year. In the same timeframe, electrifying speedster Travis d’Arnaud has hit the same number of 3-baggers. When I first saw the rumor/speculation that the Reyes would be to the 2015 Rockies what Piazza was to the 1998 Marlins, I got excited, but that was at about quarter to six this morning, long before the most important food group, caffeine, had entered my system.

    And on a different subject, weren’t we supposed to know the identity of the least significant Met of all time by now? Or was he too insignificant to mention?

    • Player ‘X’ is so insignificant, he’s been preempted by a trade the Mets aren’t making.

      For our purposes, he’ll be No. 1,000 of the Top 1,000 Mets of All-Time, since the milestone was the motivator behind all this (meaning we’ll be ranking the 999 in front of him as well), but technically, he’s bound to be No. 1,003, once Clippard enters a game.

      • Dave

        Fair enough.

        And to clarify, I’m not the same Dave as the next commenter. But I’m no Juan Uribe either.

  • Dave

    If this team is in first place on Monday, they will win the division. More moves, no more moves, whatever. I’m no Juan Uribe, but I have a good feeling about the last two months of the season.

  • Eric

    Clippard hasn’t pitched since the 22nd, so he should be available. Nationals face TJ-recovering ace Jose Fernandez tonight who hasn’t lost since his return.

  • LA Jake

    I wish the Mets had ponied up for Tulowitzki but not sure the price was worth it.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    A Giants fan will tell you how important it was that they got Marco Scutaro in 2012, same way a Red Sox fan will tell you how important it was that they got rid of Nomar in 2004. It’s an absolutely crazy game.

  • Daniel Hall

    Mejia suspended for 162 games for second positive PED test.

    Release him. Release him *right* *now*. It’s not like he seems to be learning lessons.

    These kids!

    • Eric

      http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/not-again–jenrry-mejia-suspended-162-games-after-positive-steroid-test-224803222.html

      “Mejia tested positive for Stanozolol and Boldenore, two performance-enhancing drugs. He had tested positive for Stanozolol back in April, so this is the second time this season he’s been caught using that drug.”

      Alderson acquired Clippard just in time, but now he turns into a fill-in for Mejia rather than an add-on. Familia’s 4/5-out saves are back on the table again.

      Mejia’s suspension also re-exposes Parnell who after his failure against the Nationals, which was likely related to his TJ recovery, was due to be bumped down in role.

      Mejia wasn’t going to be on the post-season roster, so at least that nagging ‘if’ question has been cleared up.

  • Dave

    Mejia, f$*#ing idiot…you did realize that you would be subject to repeated testing, didn’t you? What on earth made you think this was a good idea, and do you realize what you’ve done to this team that made you a major leaguer at the age of 20 and then patiently nursed you back to health at their expense?

    Man, how huge is the Clippard trade now?

  • RoundRockMets

    The Mets have Ruben Tejada who currently gives the same offensive production and better defense than Reyes at this stage of their respective careers. Add in the money and Reyes might have actually been a worse acquisition than Tulowitzki. This move shows how desperate Colorado was to get out from under his deal.

  • Paul from Brooklyn

    We will always love Reyes and wish him the best! He would be more exiting to watch than Tejada and we are all imagining the scenario.Oh! Just to be able to shout “Jose,Jose-Jose,Jose again! It is just a pipe dream that has played out in our heads quite a few times these last few years…….
    Let’s see what Brandon Nimmo brings! Wright is back at practice and Wheeler is throwing as of today….things are going our way! Saturday was a turning point.
    In retrospect, it is a good think that the Mets never got Tulowitzki.And they were right about the Duda over Ike.

    These are great times for the Mets! Bring on the Nats!

  • sturock

    Great game tonight. For whatever reason– new acquisitions, luck– this team is clicking now, playing tight defense, getting big hits. I like that Clippard appears motivated to beat the Nats.

  • dmg

    i too know with my head that it wouldn’t be a great thing to bring jose back, just as i too with my heart would love it.

    here’s an irony: at least one reason the mets had no interest in resigning reyes was they couldn’t afford both him and wright, and they had concerns about reyes staying healthy. so in the four years since he was last a met, jose has played more games than david in three of those years and has played 55 more games (465-410) over all.

  • Eric

    Colon, 1 run over 8.

    [Niese, 6 runs over 3.]

    Harvey, 2 runs over 7.

    deGrom, 0 runs over 7.2.

    Syndergaard, 0 runs over 8.

  • open the gates

    In my humble opinion, the ship of Reyes has sailed. And in Met history, reacquiring old stars rarely seems to work out as planned. Examples:

    Tom Seaver. His reacquisition generated the most hype, but Tom was no longer Terrific. It was his only losing season as a Met. And for all of the wailing about his being lost after one season, if he had still been a Met in ’86, Bobby Ojeda likely wouldn’t have been. Think about that.

    Dave Kingman. His second time around he still hit moonshots, but his BA barely cracked the Mendoza line.

    David Cone. Nice try, but a major misfire.

    Hubie Brooks. The less said, the better.

    Kevin McReynolds. Ditto.

    Bobby Bonilla. Oh boy.

    Anyway, you get the idea. The only second timers that appear to have worked for the Mets are when it’s clear that the returnees are there strictly for role playing and leadership purposes (think Staub, Maz, Izzy); or when the first time around they weren’t major cogs, anyway (Lenny Harris, Mike Jorgensen). And then of course there are the guys who are only gone for two weeks, then are reacquired and promptly hit three homers in a game. But we’re not talking about him. Them.

    In any event, Jose coming back at this point would only be a huge disappointment, and not necessarily such an upgrade over whom they have now. Let’s keep our memories, and leave it at that.

  • Dave

    Open is right…let’s remember what Jose gave us in his prime and leave it at that. Former Met I’d rather get back now is Carlos Gomez anyway, although word is that the Brewers’ asking price is unrealistic.

  • George

    I used to love jose reyes too. The last time I was at citi field was the last game of the 2011 season. Miguel batista threw a complete game shutout and reyes took himself out of the game after a first inning single so he wouldn’t lose the batting title #bitchmove. Then he left us I completely lost respect for him. That being said, I would love to yell josejosejose again. To see him reunited with wright with a shot at the playoffs like we were promised when they both came up. Let’s go mets!!!!