I was in the stands at Shea Stadium in 2006 when Endy Chavez, God bless his tiny heart, made this heroic catch in the NLCS' Game 7 to seemingly seal the Mets' glorious destiny.
That was the last time I've ever experienced joy. Three innings later, Carlos Beltran was frozen by an Adam Wainwright curveball that ended the Mets' season. The team has been on a Scott Storch-caliber fall from grace ever since, marked by incredible late-season meltdowns and a mess of firings and disastrous contracts and Bobby Bonilla and a Ponzi scheme. Then I moved from my hometown of New York to South Florida.
Now Jose Reyes-- our lovely Jose Reyes-- has been signed for $100-million-plus over six years by an alleged team calling itself the Miami Marlins. This has sent me on a Hamlet-esque spiral of emotions. A mental log of coming to terms with this sad new reality:
I am the one true victim of Bernie Madoff. The Mets "invested" in ol' Bernie-Pants' money machine. The team now claims to be losing $70 million a year, which is why they had no chance at keeping Reyes. Forget those families that lost their entire life savings. I just lost the only dude in the majors who grins as he legs out a triple.
At least the Mets still have Bobby Bonilla. Though "Barry Bonds' Ineffectual Left Testicle," as he was affectionately called throughout his playing career, left the Mets in 1999 and the Major Leagues two years later, the world's dumbest interest-laden contract will pay him $1.5 million annually until 2036. Which explains a lot about the Mets' financial predicament. If the front office was utterly fleeced by baseball's most mediocre outfielder, what chance did it stand against history's greatest con artist?
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Who the hell am I going to root for? I have never loved a fellow more carnally -- in a baseball sense -- than Jose Reyes. He was the man I regularly stalked in Queens. Watching him play in Little Havana is going to be like walking in on my lifelong crush having sex with another man. Who is wearing a lot of Ed Hardy. Eighty-one times a year. And whenever I accidentally turn on FSN, it'll be like watching a heartbreaking sex tape. The Mets are so utterly miserable that there's no blaming Reyes for leaving. I don't think I can bring myself to root against him. Maybe I need to don a Marlins cap, sunglasses and a fake mustache, Bobby Valentine-style?
The Mets just went from having at least the second-greatest shortstop in baseball to starting the second-greatest Tejada in baseball. What I'm trying to say here, is that Ruben Tejada -- he of the .256 batting average over 544 career at-bats -- is the Mets' new starting shortstop. The Marlins, meanwhile, have Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes, which is kind of like if Led Zeppelin hired Jimi Hendrix and was like, "Yeah, we know we have that Jimmy Page guy already, we'll figure it out in March." Mets fans living in South Florida -- which, judging from the turnout when the team plays the Marlins here, is 78-percent of all local baseball fans -- will be daily forced to face facts: We are now groupies of a frontman-less The Experience.