Jose Reyes of the New York Mets won the National League batting title on Wednesday, but he did so in a way that has most non-Mets fans shaking their heads, and probably would have last person to hit .400 doing so as well, if he were still alive.
Virtually all the ESPN analysts (OK, all) on Thursday were saying it was a lame way to win a batting title. Jose Reyes entered Wednesday, the last day of the regular season,. leading the National League batting race by a point, over Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. He padded his lead with a bunt single to lead off the bottom of the first inning of a scoreless game against the Reds at Citi Field. He then pulled himself from the game. Mets fans booed as he exited, and remember, this was a home game.
What's worse, in the eyes of many, is that New York manager Terry Collins and Reyes had discussed the matter before the game. Reyes had told Collins he wanted to leave the game if he got a hit in his first at-bat.
Meanwhile, Braun went 0-4 in his final game. Braun finished at .332, and Reyes at .337.
Interestingly, most, if not all, of the analysts said they would be OK if Reyes if there was some bonus riding on it. But Major League Baseball does not allow such an incentive for a batting title, so that wasn't a factor. They would also have been OK if the Mets had simply not played him. But bunting for a base hit and then pulling himself was viewed as manipulation.
After the game, Reyes said "I don't care what people think. A lot of people told me, 'Don't play today.' I want to stay in the game, but they (the fans) have to understand what's going on. They have to feel happy about it if I win the batting title. I do that for the team, for the fans, too, because they've been supporting me all the way through."
Contrast that with the last .400 hitter in major league baseball. It was exactly 70 years earlier, when The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, 23, and in his third year with the Boston Red Sox, entered the final two games of the regular season, a doubleheader to boot, with a .3996 average. Williams could sit out the doubleheader, and finish with a .400 average, rounded off, as his manager Joe Cronin told him, and suggested.
Williams instead decided to play, famously saying, "If I can't hit .400 all the way, I don't deserve it."
Ted Williams went six of eight, including a home run and a double. That completed his season with a 406 average. That was the last time any hitter has hit .400.
Even Jerry Seinfeld, a famous Mets fan, was astonished by Reyes behavior. He Tweeted, "How in the world does nobody in Mets Clubhouse see Reyes choice was so, so terrible? Anybody in PR anywhere around there?! Unbelievable!"
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