Sunday? The Mets.
In the year of our Lord, 2018? Well…
WHAT HAPPENED, DON’T YOU EVER TELL ME THERE IS CONSEQUENCES:
The odd thing about having the final recap of the season is that, well, this article can go in multiple directions. Do you focus on Game 162 like it was any other? Do you turn one game into one long, drawn-out metaphor for a 77-85 season? I had the, let’s say, pleasure of recapping this very game last season. It ended, as follows: “Farewell, 2017, and may you rot in hell.” As you can tell, I wasn’t exactly filled with optimism for 2018. And, as you might remember, there was a lot to be upset about when we were here last season.
While 2018 was similar in a lot of ways, it felt different in all the wrong ways. Overall, it just felt tired. It felt exhausting to yell the same things into the same void and question if anyone with decision-making ability is watching the same game that you’re watching. As a sports fan, that’s just how it is sometimes. It’s one of the more pointless aspects, sure, but it’s a feature of fandom nonetheless. That’s because we view sports as our release. Our mental break from the seemingly endless grind for the thankless bourgeoise. No matter how in-depth your fandom is.
It’s this aspect of fandom, escapism, that allows fans to see themselves as owners much too often. It’s this aspect that allows fans to focus on the vision they had of themselves playing professional sports, for better or worse. More importantly, it is this aspect that creates an environment where the thing you feel so deeply invested in, well, it might not actually matter at the end of the day. It is this aspect that allows fans to tell themselves the game they see is completely devoid of the context of society. Out of sight and out of reach, even when it is so clearly, painstakingly not.
The Mets started Sunday by allowing an accused domestic abuser to hit and/or play the field. This, of course, isn’t new. For this specific player, Sunday marked the 315th game in which that statement reigned true. And while that might seem a bit abrasive, that fact about Jose Reyes cannot possibly be separated from him. It is central to how he even wound up here in the first place.
On May 13, 2016, Jose Reyes was suspended 52 games by Major League Baseball under the league’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy. He was immediately released by the Colorado Rockies on June 15, 2016, upon completing his suspension and being taken off of administrative leave. After waiting the required amount of time, Reyes was scooped up by the Mets for the pro-rated Major League minimum. He was immediately welcomed with open arms. He received a standing ovation by Mets fans.
Everything since than has been pretty simple. Reyes has played at an awful level, but somehow managed to get a seemingly unlimited amount of opportunities. To anyone paying attention at the end of the year, it’s been pretty clear why. The Mets front office and the Wilpons have an insatiable desire to rehab the former great. Waiting for the perfect opportunity, all parties seized the David Wright opportunity. And, using the credibility/persona that is ‘The Captain,” the Mets seem to have been successful in their efforts to rehab Jose Reyes. Like he did the day he returned, he received a standing ovation on his way out the door.
Reyes isn’t the first person to be accused of domestic abuse and see their career rehabbed. About the only thing that makes him unique is that, despite poor play, he still found some form of redemption among the fanbase, which, ultimately, speaks to the farcical and downright awful fact that plenty of fans conflate athletic performance with some sort of corrective action for domestic violence charges. It lays barren the biggest lie sold to our society: actual domestic abusers, specifically high-profile ones, don’t face actual repercussions.
No matter how many times we repeat and shout about what Reyes allegedly did, nothing changed. People forgave in the absence of any true reason to forgive. People were eager to assume change and “time served.” He was immediately given a blank-check chance for redemption, as if the area of baseball were even remotely able to provide him such a thing, and never looked back. The Mets, who understood that the fanbase was truly eager for a reason to forgive, made sure this narrative was written in stone.
This type of treatment also holds up to what occurs in our world at large. Be it domestic abuse or sexual assault. Aroldis Chapman won a World Series ring the season he served his suspension. Not even a year after the public learned about some truly heinous acts committed by Louis C.K., he had a gig in New York at the Comedy Cellar. Chris Hardwick is back to riding whatever coattails “The Walking Dead” has left. Barry Bonds just had his number retired in San Francisco. If Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t get his promotion, he’ll just go back to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The list goes on and on.
It is truly remarkable that people can say charges of domestic violence/sexual assault can ruin someone’s career. It is a boldface lie. It is always told to serve a purpose. And, with Jose Reyes in particular, it is so easy to see. Accept for a second the premise (a premise which has a abysmally low rate of even occurring) that some levied accusation is false, but believed as truth. Is there really any overwhelming evidence that someone already owning notoriety will even feel more than a slight road bump in their career?
We sit idly by as the powerful use their clout to shake off the irreversible and deep trauma that they have imposed on another human being. While I’d like to believe we’re better, the fact of the matter is that many of us look for any excuse at all for things to go back to the way they were.
We disregard the pain and suffering of people we don’t know in favor of more well-known people that we don’t know. We have no reason to give high-profile abusers cover or a pass because we like the way they used to hit a baseball or throw a fastball or act or vote in ways we would vote. And yet, here we are.
At the time of Reyes’ return, Sandy Alderson had this to say: “I go back to the fact that he was with this organization as a teenager, as a young adult, and during all of that time with us — admittedly a few years ago — he was a very good citizen across the board. We are confident we’re going to get the best possible version of today’s Jose Reyes.”
Even if Alderson isn’t running things nowadays, that quote is very telling. It lets us know where the Mets wanted to try and return Reyes’ career. It perfectly combines the use of a non-sequitur and a strawman to skate around the fact that people we view as obtaining all types of great characteristics can still do terrible things to other people. And, at the end of the day, those other people should be who this whole discussion deserves to be centered around.
So, this is (potentially) the last time we’ll see Jose Reyes in a Mets uniform. It is long overdue, but all the Mets have done to rehab his character should remain a stain on this franchise for years to come. The sad reality, however, is that it won’t. Because even though we think of sports as some event outside of the jurisdiction of modern society, it isn’t. And if our society and our culture is an indication of the future of Jose Reyes, he’ll have his number retired in seven years. What a just world this is.
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports