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You Can’t Go ‘Jose Jose Jose’ Again

The Mets’ hypothetical reacquisition of Jose Reyes [1] 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 [2] for Never Met [3] Troy Tulowitzki [4] — 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 [5] 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 [6]. 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 [7], including the renaissance of Michael Cuddyer [8] (think the Rockies would take him back for Reyes?). I pictured Tulo as a latter-day Gary Carter [9] 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 [10] 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 [11] got my attention twice this weekend, once for the game-winning hit on Sunday [12], 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 [13] (ick) and Pat Burrell [14] (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 [15] and old friend Carl Everett [16], 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 [17], Tyler Clippard [18] 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 [19], the greatest lefthander of his generation, has the names of six franchises engraved on his plaque. Pedro Martinez [20] has five, including ours. John Smoltz [21], forever and ever a Brave stalwart, has three. Craig Biggio [22], 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.