I listened to the final Mets game of the year, on SiriusXM radio, while driving through New Mexico and southern Colorado. MLB Play-by-Play channel 183 (the home of Mets baseball throughout the year) carried the WFAN broadcast of the game. I turned it on in the middle of the first. After yet another smoking-is-bad-for-you commercial, the bottom of the inning commenced. Play-by-play man Howie Rose introduced the Mets' leadoff hitter, Jose Reyes. Howie immediately talked about Reyes's quest for the Mets' first ever batting title. He said Terry Collins stated that if Reyes gets a hit early, he may be pulled. I interpreted this to mean he'd play five innings and get a couple of at-bats. Reyes bunted for a single, his sixth bunt base hit of the year, putting his batting average at .3371. I took my hands off the steering wheel and clapped. Then Howie said Justin Turner trotted out of the dugout to run for Reyes.I audibly said to my empty car, "Aw, come on!" I said that for three reasons.
- I wanted Reyes to try to get one more hit and cement the batting title. I pictured Ryan Braun going 4-4 and blowing Jose out of the water, giving the LOLMetz contingent yet another reason to laugh at our already downtrodden franchise.
- I thought the move was bush league. I would have been OK with 2-3 at-bats, then a benching, but one at-bat in the first?
- Fans were barely in their seats at the time, and many of them missed what may have been Reyes's final game as a Met. Howie's partner, Wayne Hagin, said he overheard a fan express his dismay that he missed Jose's final at-bat while getting a hot dog.
The immortal Chris Majkowski, WFAN's in-booth producer, calculated that Ryan Braun would have to go 3 for 3 or 3 for 4 in order to surpass Reyes. Howie speculated that the Mets clubhouse did similar number crunching before the game.As "luck" would have it, WFAN windbag Mike Francesa joined the broadcast in the middle innings. When asked about Reyes, Francesa criticized the move, putting the blame squarely on Reyes. I immediately got angry - my reaction any time this Yankee shill says anything negative about the Mets. Then I said audibly to my empty car, "I hate it when Francesa is right." He compared Reyes's final game for the batting title to Ted Williams performance on 1941, when he played both ends of a double header, and went like 13-15 or something to finish with a .406 batting average. I thought that comparison was a bit extreme.Howie countered with two points: 7,968 games with no no-hitters and no batting titles, and Reyes had had multiple hit games leading into the final game of the season (so it's not like he backed in). Never one to be easily swayed, I said audibly to my empty car, "Yeah, that's a good point." He also mentioned that Collins stated before the game that he might pull Reyes, so why didn't anyone question his wisdom then?As time has gone on, I've decided that I'M OK with how Reyes won the batting title. It's something he really wanted, the Mets really wanted, and the fans really wanted. And besides, is Terry Collins going to say no to his request to be pulled after one hit when the Mets are doing everything short of giving him ownership of the team to get him to re-sign? Also, other hitters have done something similar to win a batting title (i.e. Bernie Williams).As the game went on, Mike, Howie, and Wayne discussed the Mets 2012 payroll, and the likelihood of Jose's return. They were, for the most part, in agreement that Reyes would test free agency. Mike thought he would leave, Howie said he was eager to stay a Met.Then they went on to discuss the deep fences at Citi Field. Just as Francesa talked about how "awful" the fences were, Mike Baxter hit a home run to give the Mets the lead. They then joked that the fences were fine the way there were.Around the eighth inning, Howie talked about the developing sub-plot: 40 year-old Miguel Batista was in a position to throw a 2-hit shutout in what may have been his final MLB game. Could it be, two accomplishments in one day by two players who may not be on the team next year? (Earlier in the game, Howie and Wayne pointed out that everyone was hacking at the first pitch in order to get the game over with. This probably had a lot to do with Batista's gem)As it turned out, Batista did throw his shutout. And I took my hands off the wheel and clapped one more time. As far as Reyes, my lingering concern has little to do with how I feel, and more to do with how others feel. Once again, critics have another excuse to point out how the LOLMetz can't do anything right. If I look past that, I'm happy Reyes won the first batting title in Mets history. And with some luck, prayer, or meditation (whatever you're into), maybe he'll return in 2012.As for me, despite clapping and talking to myself for a good portion of my journey, I made it to Colorado, ready to blog again. And as always, from the perspective of a displaced fan.