In the 2000s, MLB shortstop Jose Reyes was a household name. Even if you weren’t a New York Mets fan or a sports fan in general, it’s likely you knew the name of the Dominican infielder.
Reyes, then 19, made his Major League Baseball debut in 2003 with the Mets after spending a few seasons in the team’s minor league system. At the time he was called up, the Mets weren’t anywhere close to a World Series and sat at the bottom of the National League East. However, the 4x All-Star still managed to keep fans determined by tearing up the basepaths, leading the National League in stolen bases for three straight seasons (2005-2007) and winning both the Silver Slugger Award (2006) and the NL batting title (2007).
I was shocked back in 2011 when the New York Mets made the decision to trade Reyes. He’d finished the season with a .337 batting average, the best of his career. I always imagined he’d be a permanent fixture in New York’s infield, but deeply mired in financial troubles due to the 2009 Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, the Mets were unable to re-sign their star. And well, business is business. He was ultimately traded to the rival Miami Marlins for a six-year deal, only to get dealt a year later in a “blockbuster” trade involving the Toronto Blue Jays.
Fast forward to the 2015-2016 offseason, and an alleged Reyes family disturbance that occurred while they vacationed in Hawaii. According to Maui Police reports, Reyes, 33, and his wife Katherine were arguing in their hotel room when the incident escalated and turned violent. Katherine reportedly told police, “Reyes grabbed her by the throat and shoved her into a sliding glass door before security called police..she had injuries to her side, neck and wrist before she was taken to the hospital’s emergency room.”
Months later, Mrs. Reyes dropped the charges and refused to cooperate with police.
Domestic violence has been at the forefront of the NFL in recent years. In fact, domestic assault charges have ended the careers of a couple of high profile players, running back Ray Rice and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, to be specific. With this in mind, I thought MLB commissioner Rob Manfred would take note when it came time to hand out a punishment. Instead, the final decision was a 52-game suspension, meaning Reyes would miss spring training and not play until May 31. Once the suspension ended and Reyes was set to return to the Colorado Rockies, the team proceeded to designate him for assignment; essentially releasing him. After going unclaimed on the waiver wire, the Mets came to his rescue and signed him last week.
This sets the same tone as the Dallas Cowboys signing Greg Hardy after his domestic abuse allegations, or the New York Yankees trading for closer Alrodis Chapman following his alleged domestic abuse incident; two highly contentious pick-ups.
Why would the Mets make the same controversial decision to re-sign Reyes fresh off of his suspension? Or better yet, why do teams keep rewarding (alleged) criminal behavior with a payday?
In his return, Reyes said he “deeply regrets the incident that occurred.” Mets GM Sandy Alderson shared similar sentiments, stating that what Reyes did “was a mistake on his part,” he “deserves a second chance,” and seemed “remorseful.”
I don’t buy it.
Reyes talks about the “incident” as if he didn’t partake in it at all. Meanwhile there are public recordings of a 911 call that suggests otherwise. Reyes may be apologetic behind closed doors, especially when he knows his career is on the line. But in the eyes of the press, Reyes appears to say all the right things for a paycheck, and comes across as highly disingenuous.
I understand everybody makes mistakes, but there is no excuse for sending your wife to the hospital. What the Mets either failed to realize or chose to ignore altogether is that there was a reason other teams didn’t rush to sign him. Teams don’t want to deal with unnecessary backlash, especially for an aging shortstop whose career is on the decline.
Among the harsh New York City media, there’s a common feeling of disappointment towards the Mets organization, as there should be. Randi Marshall, a writer for Newsday, is one of many writers who took to the Internet to express her disapproval of the trade. She wrote an article expressing that although she is a die-hard Mets fan, there is no way in hell she will be cheering for them now.
And I agree. I’m tired of this vicious cycle in professional sports. Athletes abuse their wives, girlfriends, or the mother of their children, and virtually go unpunished. Organizations like the Mets and the Cowboys, or even the Yankees, couldn’t care less about an athlete’s off-field behavior, as long as he’s producing for them on the field.
This has become personal for me. What does this precedent say to young women who are trying to break into the sports media industry? It’s a big middle finger, if you ask me. As a sports journalism student, I don’t want to be forced to write stories praising undeserving athletes. I don’t want to, nor should I, be at risk of being blackballed for sharing my opinions. I shouldn’t have to compromise my personal beliefs for fear of how it will impact my dream job in the future.
Giving a former hero a second chance is not good enough. This move is insensitive to the Mets fan base, especially women. Once again, a professional sports team proved that a winning record is more important than disciplining a player for domestic abuse, and it’s time for this narrative to change.
Kayla Solomon is a new contributor to AllSportsEverything.com. She attends Temple University for nine months out of the year, but will be here in New York all summer! Follow Kayla on Twitter at @dontKAYme, Instagram at @kayla_nyree. Also, find her writing weekly on blackaphillyated.com and on her personal blog, dearfuturekay.wordpress.com.
photo via New York Post