Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Emotional Day at Citifield ... Please Stay Jose!

Last night I stood in my front of my TV in my studio apartment in the East Village jumping up with my hands in the air then clapping repeatedly for Jose Reyes as he hit his second home run of the night and gave the fans a curtain call. I wished so badly I had gone to the game. This morning I woke up and took the long subways ride, taking the 6 and 7 trains, to Flushing, Queens because I wanted to be there to see Reyes in case it's the last time he wears a Mets uniform. As I sat on the subway the thoughts of a possible departure by Reyes brought up the same feelings I had when my favorite player ever to play at the University of Louisville, DeJuan Wheat, left. For Wheat's final season at Louisville my parents got a ticket package deal where we could go to five games, unfortunately one of those games wasn't senior night. A friend of mine got tickets to the game, but instead of taking me - the biggest Louisville fan in our school - she took someone else and I was heartbroken. My parents tried to get tickets but they were sold out, so the closest I would get to seeing Wheat's last home game at Freedom Hall was on TV. After that day I got to meet Wheat at the basketball banquet, but it wasn't quite the same. When the basketball season started the next year I sat in the stands with my dad and friend Elizabeth and watched Cameron Murray lead the team as the point guard against Western Kentucky. A lot of people didn't like Murray, but I did. But no matter how much I liked Murray, I felt like something was missing from that game - DeJuan Wheat. I anticipate that next year if Reyes doesn't return I will feel the same way. I will love Ruben Tejada, I will cheer for him like everyone else on the team, but something will be missing from that Mets infield - Jose Reyes. The difference though between Reyes and Wheat is that Wheat had to leave because his eligibility was up, but Reyes can come back. And I would probably love Tejada a little more if he was playing to the left of Reyes at second base.

Once I got to the game I bought the cheapest ticket I could because I'm currently not on a project. I watched a little bit on the lower level as some of the players warmed up, but eventually made my way to the promenade section of Citifield. As Reyes approached the plate for his first at bat in the bottom of the first inning I stood up with many other fans and applauded him as the crowd chanted JOSE JOSE JOSE. Reyes got a bunt single, which put him at .337 for the batting average - leading Braun in the NL batting title race. Then suddenly Reyes vacated the base and walked towards the dugout. Justin Turner came out to pinch run for him and fans started to boo. Everyone at the game was there to see Reyes play and after one at bat and one inning of defense he was sitting in the dugout out of everyone's view. Everyone thought Collins had pulled him and I was furious. How could he do that to the fans? Later it was explained that Reyes had asked to be pulled if he got a hit and Collins wanted to honor his request. I no longer felt angry because it was Reyes's request. I think as a fan I know how much Reyes loves to play and loves the fans, so I respect his decision because he could have not played at all since he came into the game with the lead for the batting title.

So with Reyes gone in the first and David Wright pulled a couple innings later the players on the field were basically all players playing for a place next season. I eventually got over my anger about not getting to see more of Reyes and Wright and enjoyed the game - especially the hometown kid, Mike Baxter's first home run in the Majors. As the eighth inning game around I started to make my way to the lower level because I like to leave as soon as the game is over to make the express train, but today I felt like I couldn't leave Citifield. I have a very special connection to the sports teams I love. For me being at a game for the Mets or Louisville basketball is almost like my escape or the place to go where everything just feels alright. I got cut from my project this week, I'm hopeful to get on another one, but being at Citifield today just revived me a little. It's the same way going to Freedom Hall always made me feel like I was somebody. Whether it was Nate Johnson signing an autograph or Hajj Turner remembering who I was or waiting as the players ran out in the tunnel before the game I always felt like I was a part of something. Among the players and the fans I fit in. I think there are some people that don't always understand that, but also I think its something that a lot of diehard fans like myself can relate to. So as the ninth inning came around I stood at the top of the section behind the Mets dugout and people started chanting JOSE JOSE JOSE and JOSE REYES and PLEASE STAY JOSE. There were #7 shirts every where and signs begging him to stay and saying thanks. The ninth inning came to an end with a Mets victory over the Reds 3-0. Reyes led the players in the dugout out to the field to shake hands. As the players returned and proceeded to the dugout entrance to the clubhouse a player, I believe Angel Pagan, suddenly flicked his hat into the stands. Other players followed him and some even ran to the other side of the field to throw hats to the those fans. Jason Pridie handed a bat to someone, Willie Harris followed his leave. It was unbelievable to see such interaction with the fans. The Mets players are by far some of the classiest, most appreciative professional athletes I have ever seen. But the fans still wouldn't leave. They wanted one more moment with Reyes. I wouldn't leave either. I made my way a little closer to the dugout. You could just feel it - everyone loves Jose Reyes. Every Mets fan standing there didn't want that moment to end because they knew when the left the ballpark Reyes would no longer be a Met. I stood there with them and clapped and cheered. JOSE JOSE JOSE ! Then eventually he appeared. He walked out of the dugout and turned around to face the crowd smiling, carrying signs, clapping repeatedly and saluted them. He waved, he made a motion to show his love for the fans. If this was his last game as a Met I will never forget that moment - it was the send off he deserved. Hopefully its not a send off though, but a thanks for everything and see you next year (in a Mets uniform).

I'm certainly not glad to be unemployed right now, but because of that I got to see the Mets last game of the year and that was something nice, something special I won't forget.

Today was probably the most emotional sporting event I have ever been to and I've been to a lot of games, including Louisville's last trip to the final four and three subway series. But I hope in the long run it was overly emotional for no reason because Reyes comes back. But just in case he doesn't ... Thanks for the memories Jose! Thanks for the exciting triples, the multi-hit games, the amazing stolen bases, the unbelievable defensive play, the smiles, the excitement, the love of the game, and even the claw/spotlight. You certainly made a mark on the Mets - in the history books and in the hearts of fans. Now please come back and make some more ... I truly believe you and David can be the center of team that wins the World Series.


Video of crowd chanting after the game:

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