You may have seen the Village Voice this week featuring Jose Reyes on its cover and a provocative “Stealing Mickey’s Mantle” headline. Inside, Allen Barra’s article draws parallels between Reyes and Mantle, noting they shared a city, switch-hitting and stealing ability, a reputation as their era’s most exciting players, and of course, a uniform number (7).
If we going down that path though (and clearly Barra is) I’d sooner associate a pair of 5s in David Wright and Joe DiMaggio. And though he raises some interesting points, Barra ultimately bungles the story by getting the Met psyche all wrong:
If José Reyes is being overrated, it may be in large part because Mets fans want to will him into being the first truly great everyday player in team history.
This notion, central to the piece — the subhed says as much — would come off more believable had Barra bothered to include any points of view from an actual Met fan as part of the piece. (Had he asked a year ago, he’d have caught many of us hoping only that Reyes approach adequateness). But having built a case for Met fans being tortured and unrealistic, Barra then gets a guy who draws paychecks from the YES network (Goldman) to poke holes in his own trumped-up theory. (Oh, you poor delusional Met fans. Someone must show you tough love). Finally the entire thing is wrapped way too tightly in Yankee perspective: The Mantle comparison is one thing, but the nauseating Jeter showdown at the end is barely even honest (we get a “similar points in their career” comparison strongly favoring Jeter when comparing like-ages would tell a very different story). Bring back Billy Altman!