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(Opinion) Jose Reyes nominated for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award… Wait, What?!

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 19: New York Mets Infield Jose Reyes (7) hits the ball during the MLB game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies on September 19, 2018, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

The 2018 New York Mets have nominated Jose Reyes for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award.

What?

That’s just a stain on the organization and the sport.

Every year the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award is given out to a Major League Baseball player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.”

This off-the-field award honors Marvin Miller, who served as the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association from 1966 – 1982. It’s under Miller’s tenure that arguably transformed the player’s union into one of the strongest. In 1997, the MLBPA created this award as part of the Players Choice Awards, in which players on each team nominate one of their teammates to appear on the ballot.

Only one New York Met has won the award — that was Curtis Granderson back in 2016 (and he actually won this award twice; the other time as a Detroit Tiger). But this year’s nominee chosen by this year’s Mets is… Jose Reyes.

Cool.

Reyes was a longtime New York Met — his name synonymous with David Wright as his longest teammate. For many years No. 7 could be seen running around the bases in Shea Stadium and later in Citi Field with fans young and old alike chanting, “Jose, Jose, Jose.”

But rewind to 2015. The shortstop was arrested and charged with assaulting his wife, Katherine Ramirez, in a hotel room in Hawaii on Halloween. Hotel security called the police after hearing a disturbance. As reported by Hawaii News Now, Ramirez told responding officers that Reyes grabbed her off the bed and shoved her and grabbed her throat and threw her into a sliding glass balcony door during an argument. While Ramirez was then transported to the hospital with injuries, Reyes was arrested and told to have no contact with his wife for three days after posting $1,000 bail.

Reyes, whom played for the Colorado Rockies at the time, was suspended 51 games by Major League Baseball in the 2016 season even though the charges were eventually dropped after Ramirez stopped cooperating with prosecutors. The Rockies cut Reyes, opening the door for the reunion with the New York Mets.

Then in 2017 Reyes was sued over an alleged child support dispute by Christina Sanchez, a model and TV host in Nassau County, New York, over their seven-year-old daughter (Reyes had an affair with Sanchez about a year after he was married to Ramirez.)

I understand full well that professional sports, and, yes, baseball, is a business first. Organizations will weigh public relations consequences against a player’s talent and price tag attached. Accused domestic abusers will find a job in MLB if they can play at a high level — just ask Aroldis Chapman. The Mets were able to get Reyes on the cheap to round out their heavily injured roster while bringing back a once fan favorite.

But what I don’t understand is the off-the-field nomination. At best, it’s tone-deaf in light of domestic violence in sports. It’s beyond disrespectful to survivors of such assaults. I’ve been told by women that while they love baseball, they don’t always feel like baseball loves them back. I wonder why. Is there a patriarchy? Sure — and that can be a topic for another day. But honoring Jose Reyes for off-the-field actions? Well, that is truly just absurd.

Here’s what was written by the MLBPA: “In his 16th season, Jose earned the respect of his teammates with the professionalism he demonstrated in transitioning from everyday player to role player. He took on the responsibility of mentoring young players, including the Mets’ promising young shortstop Amed Rosario.”

Huh?

His on-field abilities weren’t that great in 2018. Reyes’ batting average by the end of season was a whopping .189. Stats so miserable that Citi Field at times when Reyes was up at bat would switch from his season stats to his overall career stats on the scoreboard to soften the blow to fans in the park. This probably has something to do with him not being an everyday player. And Reyes’ playing ability has obviously diminished with age, making it curious at times how he was even still on the field for much of this season. As for Rosario, he’s developed too by not taking cues from Reyes and due to his work with the coaching staff. Acting as if any success by Rosario is thanks to Reyes is just not being completely accurate.

Just for comparison’s sake, let’s discuss other players nominated for the award.

Previously mentioned was Curtis Granderson and he is once again a nominee — this time with the Toronto Blue Jays. His writeup: “Through his Grand Kids Foundation, Curtis inspires positive youth development via education, physical fitness and nutrition — providing tools and resources for educational and societal advancement. Granderson hosts several annual events including Grand-Giving fundraiser in support of the Greater Chicago Food Depository [editor’s note: even though he played much of the season in Canada] spring training and winter youth clinics and creative writing competitions for students.”

Or Washington Nationals nominee, Ryan Zimmerman: “Since 2006 the ziMS Foundation has donated funds to support and educational programs for treatment and finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. ZiMS is purely volunteer-based and has raised over $3.5 million over the last 13 years. Ryan also supports youth baseball.”

And there’s my personal favorite, Boston Red Sox nominee Mookie Betts: “Since breaking into the majors, Mookie has helped support Pitching In For Kids (community youth support), One Mission (pediatric cancer) and The Will to Live Foundation (teen suicide prevention) in a variety of ways. From hosting charity bowling events to wearing foundation themed gear on game days, Betts continues to build upon his impact within the community.”

After re-reading the description written about Reyes, as the song goes, one of these things is not like the other.

So maybe this year’s Mets didn’t have other players to nominate for this award?

Welp.

David Wright immediately comes to mind. After fighting through a brutal rehab to finally make it back to the majors for just a few innings — he said goodbye one last time to the sport he loved. The stories of Wright both on and off the field are plentiful. The third baseman is a shining example of the kind of professional that younger players in the farm system should strive to be. Now it’s important to note that the MLBPA has a notation underneath all the nominees that the selections are based on the 2018 Opening Day rosters. Wright was injured much of the year and wasn’t on the starting 25-Man Roster, so this may have disqualified him from the selection.

But wait — Noah Syndergaard was on that roster! He spent time this season donating and working with underprivileged kids in a baseball camp. He even sacrificed playing time for this, coming down with hand, foot, and mouth disease in what became one of the strangest injuries heard of in sports this year.

Oh, and don’t forget about Michael Conforto, too. He visits the children’s cancer center at NYU Winthrop Hospital.

I don’t expect Reyes to win the Marvin Miller Award because his off-the-field history speaks for itself. All 29 other team’s entries speak to their nominee’s work in the community. The Mets’ nomination is truly insulting considering his past. Reyes doesn’t belong in the group of players being honored here and it is confusing why he was picked by his peers.

I’m not in the clubhouse, I don’t know Reyes personally and this isn’t an indictment of him on charges that were eventually dropped against him. The court of public opinion spoke in 2015 and frankly, some forgot about Reyes in the years to come. On the last day of this season, Reyes got a send-off by Mets fans (the day after David Wright’s last game) to loud cheers from the stands. Yet we can’t forget about Reyes’ past, which has tainted his time in baseball and with the Mets.

But here we are.

Major League Baseball deserves better, the New York Mets organization and its fans deserve better and most of all, domestic abuse survivors deserve better.

 

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