- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

No Longer Weird

On July 23, 2005, Jose Reyes [1] busted out at Shea. The kid we’d been told was gonna do great things did the greatest things he’d done to date [2]: 4-for-5, including a triple; two RBIs; two steals; three runs scored. The Mets beat the Dodgers, 7-5. Mets starting pitcher Pedro Martinez [3] — almost exactly a decade ahead of his induction into Cooperstown — announced in advance one of the plans he had for retirement. It involved Jose Reyes.

“When I’m finished,” Pedro said, “I’ll get the best seat to see him play. I’ll pay whatever price to see him play.”

Mr. Martinez is busy this weekend, reacquainting himself with his fellow Hall of Famers, but had he made good on his pledge of eleven years ago today last night in Miami, he would have gotten his money’s worth.

The veteran we’d been told might do good things busted out:

• A leadoff double, steal and run on a sacrifice fly in the first.

• Taking first on a strike three that got away in the third, then dashing to third on a one-out single (where two subsequent Met batters stranded him).

• An RBI single with a…how you say?…runner in scoring position in the fourth.

• A leadoff base hit, a first-to-third sprint on a single and another run in the seventh.

Jose, a natural shortstop shoehorning himself into a serviceable-plus third baseman, was charged with a throwing error in the bottom of the fourth, but made up for it pronto by starting a 5-4-3 double play on the very next batter.

The Mets wouldn’t have won on July 23, 2005, without young Jose Reyes, and they wouldn’t have won as they did [4] — 5-3 — on July 22, 2016, without older Jose Reyes. As if to bookend the eleven-year trail of Reyes runs, we even got another nifty quote from his starting pitcher, this time Logan Verrett [5], who said, “He’s like a can of Red Bull balled up into a human being, and that’s something we were lacking.”

Jose is indeed energetic, but also a human being, and we know, through the circumstances under which he was available to re-emerge as a Met earlier this month, that human beings are capable of doing lousy things to their fellow human beings. Upon his return, it was hard to look at Jose, not see the domestic violence charge and instinctively not want to look at him at all. It was nearly impossible to look at Jose and see the Jose-Jose-Jose wunderkind to whom we took such a melodic shine a long time ago.

The vision is changing. I suppose it’s transactional. Now that he’s hitting and running and resembling the Reyes of yore, I’m less inclined to dwell on the legitimately negative (human beings will do that in exchange for a couple of runs sometimes). I’m seeing the Met again, the above-average baseball player. I’m hearing the kid we once embraced in pre- and postgame interviews and he sounds like Jose, except older and perhaps wiser. He is full of pep and positivity and, where the rest of his life is concerned, hopefully nothing else.

I’m rooting for my longtime favorite player again. I don’t know that he’s my favorite player anymore, but he’s here, he’s getting on base and I’m getting used to him.