Jose Reyes, whom most would consider to be the best shortstop in Mets history, announced his retirement last week. Many missed this news because it was overshadowed by the Yoenis Cespedes AWOL drama in Atlanta.
Granted, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion since Reyes did not play in the major leagues in 2019 following a disappointing 2018 season when he batted .189 for the Mets.
I have met few people in life who are as upbeat and optimistic as Reyes. No matter how badly he was performing he always had a smile and would tell you he was confident he would turn things around. He had a miserable first half in 2017 but became one of the Mets’ best hitters following the All-Star break. Alas that magic couldn’t be repeated the following year.
Reyes was still hopeful some team would invite him to spring training this year but that didn’t happen. My guess is he smartly came to the conclusion playing baseball during the pandemic was not a good idea for a guy who is 37 years old and has a family.
The biggest regret for Reyes and Mets fans is that he couldn’t play his entire career in Flushing. He became a very desired free agent following the 2011 season when he was the National League batting champ. The Mets ownership family, the Wilpons, were in the midst of the Bernie Madoff scandal, and didn’t even make Reyes a token offer to stay. Reyes winds up with a very respectable career batting average of .283 and will remain one of the most exciting players to ever wear a Mets uniform. Expect him to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame one day.
Getting back to Cespedes, last Monday Daily News Mets beat writer Deesha Thosar accused Mets public relations of botching the way news of his disappearance was handled. Thosar pointed out how team general manager Brodie Van Wagenen issued a press release in the fourth inning of the Sunday game against the Atlanta Braves simply saying Cespedes was not at Truist Park and had failed to notify anyone about his absence. Making matters worse, Van Wagenen waited until the postgame press conference to inform everyone Cespedes’ agent texted him hours earlier to say he was opting out of his contract because of COVID-19 concerns.
Thosar is right in stating the public wasn’t properly apprised about the Cespedes mystery as it was unfolding but in my opinion she’s blaming the messengers instead of the actual decision-maker. Given Cespedes’ prominence and high salary, my educated guess is Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon was directing the flow of news on this issue, not Van Wagenen or the Mets’ media relations department.
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I was saddened to learn of the passing of former Yankees second baseman Horace Clarke at the age of 81 last week.
Clarke played 10 years in the majors and was way more than a decent player; in fact he was an excellent fielding infielder who hit a respectable .256 when that was actually a good average for a second baseman.
Unfortunately, he played for the Yankees during the least favorite 10-year period for Bronx Bombers fans, from 1965 to 1974, when they went from perennial pennant winners to losing also-rans. Too many made him the scapegoat for that era of futility including former WFAN talk show host Mike Francesa in his crude Twitter eulogy last week.