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Jose Reyes and the Batting Title

Posted By Howard Megdal On September 23, 2011 @ 2:41 pm In Shea Stadium,Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

It’s interesting to me how huge changes in society can have unforseen consequences.

21 years ago, I was riveted to the Dave Magadan chase for the National League batting title. Magadan was my favorite player, I understood batting average to be the primary tool in evaluating a hitter, and I followed the Mets primarily through the box scores in the daily newspapers each morning, alongside the National League leaders. (No, Coke wasn’t a nickel.)

But as the season reaches its final six games, things have changed. Jose Reyes is my favorite player. But batting average isn’t in the top five indicators I use to determine the value of a hitter. And I follow the Mets in a myriad of ways, with that delightful leaderboard in agate type well down the list.

Still, there is the residue of the fan I was at age 10 still present in me at age 31. So the idea that Jose Reyes can do something offensively that no Met has ever done is extremely appealing.  For Reyes to do something no shortstop has done in either league since Nomar Garciaparra in 2000, something no National League shortstop has done since Dick Groat in 1960, and something Derek Jeter has NEVER done is lovely to consider.

Imagine the talking point, as irrelevant as it may be: “Jeter wasn’t in Reyes’ class as a fielder… and he never won a batting title!”

But try as we might to ignore it, there’s that awful reality looming this winter. Are these the final six games Jose Reyes will play as a Met? Am I an irresponsibile father if I don’t pack my wife and daughter into a pair of ponchos and brave tonight’s elements to see Jose Reyes play in person?

You couldn’t have convinced the 10-year-old me that a little rain would keep me from a baseball game, or that a Met shortstop winning a batting title would have all kinds of statistical caveats. The idea that when little league coaches encouraged hitters with the notion that “a hit is as good as a walk”, there’d be widespread acceptance of that idea. That the likely number one movie in America this weekend would eschew the hit for the walk as Jose Reyes looked for hits. (Walks do nothing for him in his batting title pursuit, after all.)

Then again, even the 28-year-old me would have had trouble believing that one man’s Ponzi scheme could affect both the future of Hadassah and Jose Reyes. Things change in a hurry, and even the indirect consequences are astonishing to fathom.

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