The Deal with Jose Reyes Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Apparently my Jose Reyes piece has gotten a bite or two (which is great, so if you Tweeted about it or emailed a link or sent it to your friends via passenger pigeon, many thanks). Of course, not everyone agrees with my take, which is fine and to be expected.

I did see a tweet that gave me pause, however. Dave Lennon, Mets beat writer for Newsday, had this to say:

I don’t buy the “Media vs. Reyes” premise. No one who actually knows Reyes calls him a slacker. Just fans or radio hosts.

And a short while later:

I could be wrong, but I don’t remember reading in any of the newspapers (or their web sites) about Reyes being a slacker.

And you know what? That’s probably true. Newspapers usually confine their coverage to the games themselves, and even their opinion pieces tend to not be reckless.

Unfortunately, the sports media is no longer confined to newspapers. There is an enormous Sports Media Landscape, and the percentage of it that actually reports sports news gets smaller every year. The rest of it is composed of the “fans and radio hosts” Lennon mentioned, whether they call into WFAN or write their own blogs or comment on newspaper web sites.

I understand why a beat writer would feel it’s unfair to think The Media is ‘out to get’ Jose Reyes. Because when a beat writer thinks of The Media, he thinks of guys like himself, who  travel with a team 162 games a year (plus spring training) and do actual work. He doesn’t feel like he’s on the same level as the Mike Francesa’s of the world (nor should he), who make sweeping pronouncements from their thrones in Astoria.

But Average Joe Sports Fan doesn’t just read beat stories anymore. He listens to Francesa and reads blogs and comments on stories and watches guys yell at each other on ESPN. To him, all of these things are SPORTS now. Lennon’s a reporter, Francesa an entertainer–yet they’re put on equal footing in the eyes of most fans.

So when I talked about a media narrative, I meant the entire amorphous modern sports media, of which reporters are a disturbingly small part. I don’t think there’s a Vast Anti-Reyes Conspiracy. The Trade Reyes Groundswell is just one those Big Dumb Ideas that a large group of angry people can latch onto and get swept up in.

Mets fans are certainly angry these days. I suggest they channel that frustration in healthy ways. For instance: buy a punching bag and put Shane Victorino’s face on it. Just don’t let this anger make you hate one of the best players the Mets have ever produced.