(left to right, Baseball Fury, Fancy Dancer)
“People kept saying we got teams fired up when we did those handshakes,” declares Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (above, right) to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff. “So now I want to focus more on baseball.” Way to deny Wally Matthews valuable content, Jose.
The shocking collapse to last season, and Reyes’ prominent role in the club’s downfall, has prompted the All-Star shortstop to rethink his antics by the on-deck circle. In what proved to be the defining moment of that infamous weekend, Reyes’ hip-hop handshake with Lastings Milledge seemed to infuriate the Marlins, who later ignited a bench-clearing brawl that same afternoon and returned to rout the Mets on Sunday.
“Nobody said anything to me, but it’s because of what happened last year,” Reyes said. “That’s why I’m taking this year more seriously. In 2006, everybody loved [the handshakes], but now it’s different. I’m going to enjoy the game, but I’m not going to do the handshakes with the guys. I don’t want people to talk about that. I just want to play baseball. I want to take care of business on the field.”
In performing the autopsy on last year’s Mets, there was more than one cause of death, but there was plenty of finger pointing at Reyes, who was accused of violating baseball’s etiquette of not showing up the opposing team. Manager Willie Randolph tried to deflect that blame by downplaying the incident at the time, but there is some validity to that claim.
When told that Reyes was thinking of killing the handshake this season, Billy Wagner was surprised, but understood.
“All it does is bring more attention to yourself,” Wagner said. “You want Jose to be Jose. Having fun is what he’s about. You want him to get excited when he gets a big hit or steals a base. But sometimes too much of that blows it out of proportion and makes him a target. And that’s the thing. You don’t want to give the other team any reason to make it an issue. You want them to see you’re here for business. The only time you have fun playing this game is when you’re winning.”
Sheesh. Who’s the Mets’ new style guru, Frank Cashen? Can anyone connect the failures of the Mets’ bullpen last September to Reyes or Milledge behaving like they had a pulse?