By Rich Coutinho
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There are a lot of stars in this town: Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning, Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Henrik Lundqvist, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, to name a few of the biggest. But none shine brighter in New York than Jose Reyes.
That might sound like a bold statement, but it really isn't. Reyes brings an emotion and passion to the game that few players -- let alone superstars -- bring to the table.
Reyes' numbers this season jump off the page: .341 average, 61 runs scored, 113 hits, 14 triples, 26 stolen bases in LESS than half a season. He is keeping the Mets in the playoff hunt, a wild card race most believed the Mets could never be a part of. But it's June 27 and the Mets trail the wild card leader by a mere 4 games in the loss column.
I certainly do not want to take anything away from the season Carlos Beltran is having (or the job Terry Collins has done with this pitching staff) but this team is all about Reyes right now. Yesterday, he had a 4-hit game, yet had the biggest play of the day with his glove in the first inning, an eye-popping defensive play that short circuited a Rangers rally. One that could sent the game in another direction.
Walk around Citi Field (I wish members of the media would do that just once a week) and you feel the passion Reyes evokes in the fans. Walk in the clubhouse and you see the passion he brings out in his teammates. He just makes the people around him better. He has made Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada better players because of both his talent and his leadership. That's right, I said leadership.
Reyes does not do it by turning over a buffet table, he does it by speaking to people one on one. And before you ask the question, I will answer it. Not just Hispanic players. My Dad has been ill the past few years suffering from a number of ailments -- including lung cancer -- and not a day passes by without Reyes asking about him. And even in the days after losing his grandmother, Reyes still asked.
That is the kind of person Reyes is. He's genuine in a world that generally eats up genuine people and spits them out. And Jose does not care about any of that. He only cares about playing baseball and being the best friend he can be to those in his inner circle.
You simply can not fake that kind of passion. Jose has that "it factor" that few people, let alone athletes, possess. It's funny, when we were in spring training very few members of the media thought Reyes had a shot to get "Carl Crawford" money, dismissing him as a very good player with limitations. It never bothered Reyes. He kept smiling and kept saying it is great to be healthy. What we have found out is that what is great for Reyes is not so great for the rest of the National League, as he has been the best player in the sport for the past 3 months.
Better than Albert Pujols, better than Ryan Howard, better than A-Rod, better than anyone. And this has not changed Reyes at all. He still leads the league in smiles and just about every offensive category. And he may become the first Met to ever snare the MVP award.
That, my friends, makes him New York's best player. In any sport. And in a city that owns more sports stars than any other city in the world, that speaks volumes. Loud enough that I can hear the cash register ringing in the background. Cha-ching, every time Reyes makes a jaunt from home plate to third base, which simply put, is the most exciting moment in baseball.
Or any sport in this town for that matter.
Is Reyes the best athlete in NYC? Let Coutinho know in the comments below...
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