- Associated Press - Thursday, September 29, 2011

At least we didn’t have to hear Jose Reyes trot out those lame sports cliches about how the credit should go to his teammates.

This one was all about him.

On a night that every Little League coach should immediately burn from memory, the New York Mets shortstop turtled his way to the NL batting title with a bunt single, a request to be pulled from the game, and a chorus of boos from the 28,000 fans who came to see one of the game’s best hitters take what could be a final victory lap around Citi Field.

Reyes wrapped up the batting title by going 1 for 1 _ the bunt single in the first inning _ and beating Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, who actually tried but got no hits later in the evening when he needed three.

“A lot of people told me I shouldn’t play today,” Reyes said. “I said, ‘Oh, no. I want to play.’ I want to be there for the fans.”

Given their reaction, Reyes shouldn’t have done them any favors.

He becomes a free agent this offseason and if it turns out this was his last game in a home uniform in New York, it was awkward, ugly and a little sad. Trying to understand the psychology behind the decisions that led to this debacle is a window into what the Mets have become.

They, of course, would love to keep Reyes and don’t want to do anything to upset him. But the reality is, they’re plagued with financial problems. Those problems have played into three straight losing seasons, trades involving stars Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez and as many headlines for their ties with Bernie Madoff as anything on the baseball diamond.

Mets manager Terry Collins went along with Reyes‘ request to be pulled if he got a hit to open the game.

If he didn’t honor Reyes‘ request, Collins said, “I could possibly lose the one thing I helped create all summer long in one instance, and I wasn’t going to let that happen today.”

There is an argument to be made _ that a batting title over a long, grueling season isn’t won in a single night, though it certainly can be lost. And with so little going for them, the Mets certainly couldn’t be blamed for wanting to preserve a little bit of history _ in this case, Reyes‘ league-leading .337 batting average.

Clearly, Reyes and the Mets aren’t the first ones to choose this route. Back in his day, Wade Boggs sat out some end-of-season games to ostensibly nurse some injuries while also protecting his league-leading batting average.

But those arguments came off a little hollow, especially on this night.

Down the East Coast, Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon was putting it all on the line, trying to help the Red Sox avoid one of the biggest collapses in baseball history. He gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth to Baltimore and now has a spot alongside Bill Buckner in the Red Sox hall of shame.

But at least he didn’t finish the season sitting in the dugout.

Story Continues →