Alger: What happened to fighting to the end?

Wednesday was one of the best nights in baseball history.

Period.

The Red Sox and Braves completed their historic collapses while Rays and Cardinals’ fans rejoiced at the prospect of the playoffs after their seasons seemed doomed just a week ago.

The night was spectacular. It was captivating and brought baseball to the forefront of the national headlines.

Nobody was happier about the events that took place Wednesday night than New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes.

See, Reyes did something stupid on Wednesday. He did something selfish and unfair. What he did went against everything that is right in sports and in competition.

And because of Carl Crawford not coming up with that catch, Evan Longoria’s walk-off homerun, Chris Carpenter’s stellar outing and the Braves’ inability to score timely runs, nobody remembers what Reyes did.

So what did Reyes do?

He sat out in order to win.

Heading into the final game of the season, Reyes led the National League with a .336 batting average. This gave him a one point lead over Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun.

The two men were poised to let the best man win. A fight to the finish. Whoever hit the best on that day would walk away with the title.

The battle started well for Reyes. He singled on a bunt in his first at-bat.

Then Reyes decided he didn’t want to play fair.

With his average boosted to .337, Reyes left the game after one at-bat. Figuring Braun couldn’t raise his average by two points, Reyes took a seat, not wanting to risk dropping his average by getting out later in the game.

It was a calculated move. It was planned out.

But it wasn’t smart.

Not only did Reyes balk at the chance of padding his lead in a fair fight, what he did could have cost him the title.

If Braun would have at least gone 3-for-4 in his game, he would have grabbed the title for himself. Unfortunately for Braun — and those who enjoy a fair fight — Braun went 0- for- 4 to end his chances.

Reyes told reporters after the game he did it for the fans. He did it so they could share in the glory of his batting title. The flaw in that logic is that when Reyes exited 12 minutes into the game, there was a good chance it was the last time he did so as a Met.

As an upcoming free agent, Reyes will be one of the most sought after prizes this offseason. For a player to leave a game early and say he did it for the fans, when in fact he was one of the only reasons for fans to watch the Mets play this year, is a disgrace.

For all intents and purposes, Reyes may bolt from New York this winter, and all that Mets fans will remember of his was his unwillingness to finish a game.

What ever happened to that dream of wanting to come through with the game on the line?

Bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Game tied. That’s every kid’s dream. They want to be that guy to come through in the clutch.

Reyes’ act on Wednesday afternoon was the equivalent of the kid in the outfield hoping to God that the ball won’t be hit to him because he might drop it.

Seventy years to the day before Reyes pulled himself out, Ted Williams did the exact opposite. On that September day in 1941, Williams entered the last day of the season with his average sitting at .400. Williams had the option of sitting out and finishing the season above that mythical plateau, but instead he played both games of a doubleheader to end the year.

Williams went 6-for-8 and raised his batting average to .406.

Reyes went 1 for 1 and lowered his reputation to invertebrate.

• Tyson Alger, sports writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or by emailing talger@ thegardenisland.com. Follow him on twitter.com/tysonalger.

 

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