Boy, do we like to overreact as sports fans in this day and age, or what? I mean, seriously. The Mets' Jose Reyes beat out the Brewers' Ryan Braun for the 2011 National League batting title, and that's an accomplishment that any baseball player would probably be proud of for the rest of his life. Maybe Reyes will always cherish his feat, but maybe, because of the often illogically critical eye of the media and fans, he might forever look back on his accomplishment with a bit of shame.
Why? Well, because Jose Reyes had the nerve to take himself out of the last game of the season Wednesday against the Reds after leading off the first inning with a bunt single. By doing so, Reyes made Ryan Braun's job a bit more difficult, and it really didn't matter, as it turned out, because Braun went hitless against the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday evening.
People have called Reyes selfish and say that he cheated the fans and the game of baseball by not playing until the very last at-bat. Am I missing something? Were Reyes and Braun battling it out for the 2011 NL batting title or the Wednesday, September 28th batting title?
I mean, Reyes had the number of at-bats required to qualify for the title, right? He didn't get the majority of his base-hits off of pitchers lobbing the ball underhand, did he? Braun wasn't forced to bat blind-folded with one arm tied behind his back for most of the season, was he?
It's not like Wednesday was the only game that Reyes missed during the year. He played in 126 games, so that means there were other games and plenty of at-bats that he didn't get. Did he "cheat" the fans and the spirit of competition by missing a game or two in May or July?
I didn't know the last game of the regular season was more important in regards to the batting title than the other 161. I thought MLB just took the number of hits and divided them by the number of at-bats over the course of an entire season, and whoever finished with the highest average was declared the batting champion for his league.
Why do we ridicule people? I mean, wasn't there enough to talk about Wednesday, what with the exciting and dramatic finishes to both wild card races? What about the Tampa Rays coming back from a 7-0 deficit late and clinching the American League wild card spot on a dramatic 12th inning home run against the New York Yankees? What about the Boston Red Sox blowing a huge late-season lead in the wild card standings and then blowing a chance for a one-game playoff by blowing a late lead to the Orioles? And how about the Yankees not trotting Mariano Rivera out there to try and close out the Rays in the 9th inning? I mean, didn't the Yankees cheat the fans there? I'll bet the Rays fans don't think so.
What about the Atlanta Braves also blowing their huge September wild card lead and getting surpassed by the hard-charging St. Louis Cardinals on the final day of the season?
Aren't those stories more compelling than whether or not Jose Reyes cheated the fans, Ryan Braun and all of baseball by not taking a couple of more at-bats in a meaningless 162nd regular season game?
Would an asterisk really make you feel better? Well, guess what? Years from now, nobody is going to remember how Reyes won the batting title.
Jose Reyes is the 2011 National League batting champion.
Live with it.