The New York Mets closed another disappointing season with a 3-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field. However, the story of the day happened in the first inning when Jose Reyes pulled himself out of the game following a leadoff single to give himself a better chance to win the batting title over Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Braun went out and played nine innings for the playoff-bound Brewers, but went 0-for-4, giving the NL batting title to Reyes.
The question now is if the honor is tainted by Reyes' refusal to play all of the final game of the season.
Two of SB Nation NY's writers take a look at both sides of the argument, first up is Jimmy Hascup.
Jose Reyes' decision to be removed from Wednesday's game if he singled in his first at-bat has many banging the "Reyes is a chicken" or "that's a weak way to win" drum for two reasons. People either want the award won the "right way" and that's by playing a full game with a full slate of at-bats, or they are Mets fans who wanted to see their homegrown shortstop play out what could be his last game in a Mets uniform.
To those individuals who want the title to be earned, my argument is that it is. Major League Baseball requires that in order to be eligible for the batting title, one must have at least 502 plate appearances in the season which both players had. I understand Braun had more chances to "lose" the title on the final day of the season ... but in reality, he had a lot more chances to win it, too. Even more to the point, Braun is going to play in October and Reyes is not. I think the shorstop would rather be in Braun's shoes.
For those Mets fans (and for the record, I'm a diehard one) who are disappointed in Reyes because they wanted to see him for a full nine innings, I understand your point of view. But, in the final day of the season, the top players rarely play an entire game, anyway. Maybe Reyes would've had one more at-bat.
The other factor is that Reyes has earned the right to request to be taken out of a meaningless game. For 1,050 games he has given us Mets fans nothing but 110 percent effort. And he's done it with a smile on his face. He's an athlete whose love for the game shows every second he's on the field -- and it seems like not enough of them are around these days. We've gotten to watch at least parts of nine seasons with No. 7. The 28-year-old has been through enough ups and downs in his career for him to request the chance to give himself a chance for fame. This year alone he's been hobbled by two injuries -- and he's been productive all season as the team's lineup grew weaker as the season went on.
If you are a fan who is complaining because you wanted to catch Reyes one last time, I don't feel sorry for you. You had nine years of your life to watch this rare talent grow into one of the best players in the game. For one game, Reyes wanted to be selfish. For one game -- one that in reality meant nothing -- he wanted it to be about himself. In the end, nobody should judge Reyes based upon this one instance because he's given the fans and organization something to be proud of through the duration of his career ... and it's selfish on our parts to get mad at a guy looking out for himself on Game No. 162 of the season.
Here is Ryan Jones with a look at the other side.
It's important to state up front that Jose Reyes was well within his right to ask out of the final game of the season to try and win the NL batting title. It was a theory he clearly had thought long and hard about with his agent and it ended up working, so bully for him.
Reyes will hit free agency pounding his chest as a batting champion and if he happens to return to the New York Mets, they will no doubt hold some ridiculous ceremony before the first week of the season in the middle of the week to try and get fans to show up at Citi Field.
I'm sure we will be able to own a piece of this amazing milestone with a limited edition ball for $29.99. That will be an interesting thing to sell since it's something this batch of Mets doesn't have.
This whole situation is just another reflection of a 2011 Mets team that showed down the stretch there is not one leader on the current active roster.
The same way David Wright refused to wear a first responders hat in the field during a game on September 11th because he didn't want to rock the boat, Reyes has only been thinking about himself since he came off the disabled list at the end of August.
Reyes admitted he wasn't stealing bases because he still wasn't 100 percent. Why would he still stay on the field when he is unwilling to help the team win games with his best tool, his speed? Because there was a batting title to win, of course!
Wright showed the kind of awareness he has after Wednesday's game when he seemed legitimately shocked that anyone would have a problem with how Reyes handled the situation.
"I don't see what the big deal is," the third baseman said incredulously.
His buddy had done what's best for himself, so why would anyone possibly take issue with that?
Maybe Reyes and his .684 playoff OPS will be back next season with a new rich deal, but his only batting title will always be mentioned with a footnote.
Not that he will care much either way as Reyes was more than happy to share after the game.
"I don't care what people think. I was happy," he said.
And that, right there, just about sums up Jose Reyes' career with the New York Mets.