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The Strangest Dream

I came home from Closing Day today [1], still a little miffed that Jose Reyes [2] pulled himself from the game the second he got to first. I didn’t mind the protecting of his .337 average. But he couldn’t have stayed on the bag another minute? Who pinch-runs for Jose Reyes if he’s not injured?

Teddy Ballgame, it is emphasized in some quarters, would not have sat himself when he was going for .400 in 1941. Fine. He wins the sportsmanship award from 70 years ago. Nevertheless, I looked forward to finding out if .337 would be enough to win a batting crown here in the present of 2011. Ryan Braun [3] came into tonight batting .335 and could still steal this thing. Everybody else was worried about Wild Card races — the Cardinals having made up so much ground on the Braves, while the Rays are perhaps on the verge of taking down the Red Sox — but this was the one I was focused on.

Yet as I will when I go to day games, especially when I went the night before [4], I drifted off on the couch after Braun’s first at-bat, which was an out. Maybe I did more than drift off, because it feels like I was asleep for the longest time, during which I had the strangest dream.

First, Braun went 0-for-4 to finish .332. Reyes indeed won the batting title, the first any Met ever got. It should have been a bigger deal. It wasn’t. The choreography of exiting in the first inning seemed to be what got people’s attention. Next, he filed for free agency. The Mets didn’t make him an offer. Suddenly he was a Florida Marlin [5], the worst thing you can be. No, actually, they were called the Miami Marlins in my dream. They weren’t wearing teal anymore. They had a new stadium and a bunch of other free agents to go with Jose and that young slugger who kills the Mets, Mike Stanton. Except Mike Stanton was now Giancarlo Stanton [6].

I found myself at Citi Field in what I guess was the next season. Jose came up to bat for the Marlins. I stood and applauded [7]. Not many did. Nobody had a memory. In my dream, it really bothered me. I couldn’t get used to him not being a Met. I couldn’t stand that the weird Marlin uniform he was wearing (black and orange and maybe two or three other colors) was all anybody saw. In my dream, Sandy Alderson said something about sending him a box of chocolates instead of possibly negotiating a contract. I think it was supposed to be a joke. I didn’t get it.

Ruben Tejada [8] was the Mets’ shortstop in my dream. I found myself resenting the kid, which is too bad, because I really like him as a second baseman and still hold out hope that when the Mets do re-sign Reyes — they’re not gonna let him go, no way — Ruben will be Jose’s double play partner for years to come [9]. David will be at third and Ike, once he’s over the mysterious injury he sustained in Colorado and the valley fever, will be at first. I don’t know what they’ll do with Daniel Murphy [10]. He’s always getting hurt and, besides, he’s not really a second baseman. Maybe we could trade him to some American League team that could use him as a designated hitter and get bullpen help. Maybe somebody would take Manny Acosta [11] as long as I’m dreaming.

Anyway, Reyes is a Marlin, and I keep showing up at Citi Field to applaud him even if nobody else does. This goes on for a season and then he’s a Blue Jay. I guess the Marlins had another fire sale. They kept Stanton and apparently nobody else. Reyes was in the other league and the Mets continued to suck. Tejada wasn’t that great a shortstop, it turned out. They couldn’t replace Jose. They even tried Omar Quintanilla [12], one of those names I think I saw in a box score once. It’s weird how stuff like that infiltrates your dreams.

Next thing I know, the Mets are really good. Reyes is a Rockie (traded for Troy Tulowitzki [13], who I wouldn’t mind never seeing at Citi Field again after what he did to us in April [14]) and looks bored. I’m not sure what one thing had to do with the other, but I told you it was a strange dream. I’m at a game where we’re playing Colorado and think that it’s too bad he’s not the player he was when he was competing for the batting title for us, but time marches on and maybe I’m finally over him [15].

Here’s where it really gets bizarre. In the dream, Reyes is wearing a Brooklyn Cyclones uniform. Or was it a Binghamton uniform? Either way, he’s sort of back with the Mets. He’s older. He kind of looks like himself but not quite — you know, like the difference between Izzy when he came up and Izzy when he came back this year [16]. They’re saying Jose’s going to be a Met again for real. They’re holding a press conference and he’s saying how happy he is to be home [17], but it doesn’t feel exactly like a homecoming. Somebody keeps interrupting to mention Reyes wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t thrown his wife into a glass door in Hawaii — Hawaii? — and he’s a bad guy and the Mets shouldn’t sign him. Then somebody else says he’s served his suspension, and the Mets could use him maybe.

He’s not the shortstop in my dream. He’s the third baseman. David Wright [18] has a bandage on his neck and a beard. He doesn’t play anymore but he hangs around. Jose has a beard, too. Terry Collins is still the manager. Both he and David say nice things about Jose, though they, too, sort of reprimand his behavior. So does Alderson. Jose’s back but he’s not back. He’s wearing No. 7, except even that isn’t simple [19]. He had to get it back from a catcher with an odd-looking last name that begins with a lower-case letter. The catcher switches to 18 in tribute to, get this, Peyton Manning.

Finally, after I don’t know how many years in the dream, Jose steps up to bat against the “Miami” Marlins. He gets a nice hand — a nicer hand than he got when he returned as a Marlin — but on TV it sounds a little more tentative than I would have imagined prior to this business about him being arrested in Hawaii, which even in this whole surreal scenario I can’t truly fathom. Gary and Ron (Keith isn’t there) take very measured tones. In the moment it takes me to absorb that my favorite player is a Met again and that it’s not the unalloyed restoration I had hoped for, because what he did was as bad as everybody was suggesting, he strikes out. In the rest of the game, he doesn’t get on base and the only fielding he does at third is take a throw from the catcher wearing 18 with the lower-case letter on a stolen base from one of the Marlins.

I also think I saw Ichiro Suzuki [20] in the visitors’ dugout and Curtis Granderson [21] in right field for the Mets. James Loney [22] was on first base for us, the guy from the Dodgers; I don’t know what happened to Ike. And on TV they were saying something about who was on the All-Star team. Jose wasn’t. It was like all Cubs plus Daniel Murphy, except Murphy was a National and lost the starting spot at second by only 88 votes [23] (yeah, right, Daniel Murphy an All-Star second baseman — I suppose Terry Collins is managing [24]). The Mets had three All-Stars [25], or one more than we did this year when it was Reyes and Beltran before we traded him to the Giants. One of them was the minor league pitching prospect Familia, and don’t ask me why his name appeared in my subconscious. The other two were spelled funny. Yoendegaard something or somebody? I have no idea who they were or what they represented. Oh — Beltran was an All-Star again, but for the Yankees, for crissake.

The only part of the whole thing that felt real was Mike…I mean Giancarlo Stanton homering twice for the Marlins, one on a searing line drive above a bunch of seats Citi Field doesn’t actually have (there was a blue fence in front of the black wall), one on an absolute bomb where nobody except maybe Scott Hairston [26] hits them. The Marlins won, ending a Mets winning streak [27] in which they’d scored a ton of runs before Reyes reappeared, the implication being nothing in your dreams is ever quite or even close to how you want it.

Then I woke up. What did Braun do in his second at-bat?