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Don’t Expect Reyes’ Return to Be Very Memorable

By Mike Silva ~ April 24th, 2012. Filed under: New York Mets.

Jose Reyes returns to New York tonight as a member of the Miami Marlins. It will be weird to see the former Mets shortstop decked out in the silly art deco Miami uniform. This is not the first time in team history a star is returning to his former place of employment. The Mets have done a bad job over their history keeping in-prime homegrown talent with the organization. Tom Seaver and Darryl Strawberry immediately come to mind. Mike Piazza was clearly on the decline, but his departure still was bitter-sweet for many fans. I don’t expect Reyes to receive anywhere near the reaction or media scrutiny those three memorable returns generated.

The all-time returning hero was Seaver, who beat the Mets 5-1 at Shea on August 21st, 1977. The Franchise would strike out 11 and toss a complete game in front of 46,265. The events that led to Seaver being sent to Cincinnati still bother Mets fans to this day. There will never be a more emotional return in the history of the franchise.

Darryl Strawberry leaving the Mets after the 1990 season wasn’t the equivalent of Seaver from a public relations disaster, but it had a similar effect on the franchise. 1991 marked the team’s first losing season since 1983. It would be six years before they returned to contention. They would not have a hitter of Strawberry’s impact until they traded for Piazza in 1998. They wouldn’t develop one until David Wright made his debut in 2004. The Mets were actually playing pretty well for Buddy Harrelson early that year when Straw and the Dodgers returned to Shea on May 7th.  Strawberry received a mixed reaction of cheers and boos. It actually was pretty symbolic of his time in New York, as many fans felt he never lived up to his potential. Who knew at the time how deeply rooted his demons were. 47,744 saw John Franco close the door on a 6-5 victory, which raised their record to 15-10 and kept them 1.5 games behind the first-place Pirates.

Mike Piazza was also an emotional return. Unlike Seaver and Strawberry, there was no animosity towards Piazza since the Mets elected to not re-sign him after the ’05 season. The Mets were a lost franchise going nowhere when Steve Phillips acquired him from Florida in May of ’98. Piazza was the heart and soul of the overachieving late-90s Mets.

His new team, San Diego, came to Shea on August 8, 2006 in the midst of the Mets magical run. Piazza went 1-4 and received a nice standing ovation from the crowd of over 47,000 during his first at-bat. The dramatics actually came a night later when Piazza hit 2 home runs off Pedro Martinez, and nearly a third off Aaron Heilman that was caught in deep center.

Lesser reunions include Gary CarterLenny DykstraTodd HundleyEdgardo Alfonzo, John Franco and Al Leiter. Carter and Dykstra received standing ovations from the Shea faithful, while Franco was given a tribute video. Leiter, despite being the ace of the late-90s pitching staffs, was booed when he took the mound for the Marlins in April of 2005. This was due to his reported involvement in the Scott Kazmir-Victor Zambrano deal. To this day the relationship between Leiter, Mets fans and the organization has been strained. When John Franco returned with Houston earlier that same month he received a tribute video, similar to what we will see today with Reyes.

So where will tonight rank in all-time Mets reunions? It probably won’t be contentious like Leiter, but it will be no-where near the drama and attention of Seaver, Strawberry and Piazza.

Reyes was a very good Met that became a fan favorite because of his endless energy. He was the jumpstart to the offense, and the team usually won when he had a great day at the plate. The fans also remember the September slumps during collapse, lack of focus in the field that led to routine errors and the barrage of injuries the last three seasons. Unlike Seaver, Strawberry and Piazza, Reyes’ Mets were colossal disappointments. There are more bad memories than good ones, and the way he left by walking off the field after one at-bat his last game, has left a bad taste in some people’s mouth.

We won’t see anywhere near the attendance figures that Seaver Strawberry and Piazza drew. I doubt we will see 30,000 fans at Citi Field tonight. Reyes will probably get a polite ovation from the crowd. If he has a big game the few thousand that are left later on might do a mock “Jose, Jose, Jose” chant, but it will largely be no big deal.

Modern Mets fans love Reyes, but in the context of team history he isn’t at the level of importance of the aforementioned trio. He is more Edgardo Alfonzo than Piazza. That isn’t a bad thing, but this era of Mets baseball has changed not because of his departure, but due to a change in front office and a unique ownership dynamic.

After that first at-bat, Reyes is just another opponent. It’s ok to give a polite applause, and I wouldn’t blame you if you booed. For me, the nostalgia just isn’t there for the guy. It would be interesting if the fans ignored him, or better yet, ran from their seats like he ran off the field the last day of 2011. I doubt Reyes really cares how he is received. He got what he wanted, which was a big dollar contract. He would have played on Mars if Bud Selig had an MLB team stationed there with an owner willing to give him the maximum amount.

I have moved on, so should you.

Reyes is not worth crying over.

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3 Responses to Don’t Expect Reyes’ Return to Be Very Memorable

  1. Stu B

    Mike, you unjustly dignify the Marlins’ uniforms with the name of a classic artistic/design style. Silly is a much more appropriate adjective than art deco!

  2. kjs

    I agree with many points made by Mike Silva. In fact, emotionally, I still rue the Seaver trade more than the loss of Reyes to FA.

  3. tnt

    stu the m looks like a fruit loops box

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