Heading into the offseason, the Mets had essentially no viable everyday outfielders on the roster. Even still, on Wednesday they parted ways with one of their (inviable?) (unviable?) (nonviable?) players clogging up the roster – Jason Bay. Perhaps astonishing only because this is the Mets, the organization decided they would rather pay Jason Bay to not play baseball for them.
Jason Bay wasn’t just the latest in a long history of star players who came to the Mets and underperformed, he was just the most inexplicable. A guy who replaced Manny Ramirez in Boston, another city that doesn’t give sports figures any slack (hello Bobby Valentine), Jason Bay was pretty much a flop in New York from Day One.
There was so much to like about the guy, this fine guy who Steve Phillips once traded away and whom Mets fans watched with regret as he became a star in Pittsburgh. He hustled to first on every weak ground ball he hit. He bashed his head into walls trying to catch fly balls on several occasions. He was a Pearl Jam fan. He never once sulked or made excuses for his pathetic batting average. I’m well aware that baseball is a performance based industry, and we’re all just rooting for laundry, but the idea that in the same era Jason Bay could be booed and a wife beater like Brett Meyers could be cheered, ever, gave me pause to consider whether this whole sports thing was worth the investment.
Jason Bay leaves the Mets with all the class that marked his tenure, wishing the Mets and their fans all the success, and I imagine most of us feel the same for him. Unlike Oliver Perez, whose comeback in the Pacific Northwest makes us cringe, if we see Jason Bay in the 2013 playoffs (by see, I mean on TV), I think we’ll root for him. And if by some stretch of the imagination he’s manning the outfield at CitiField on July 16 next year I suspect he’ll get a nice ovation.
Thinking of the last guy the Mets thought it worth it to pay a guy a substantial amount of money to not play for them, Bobby Bonilla he ain’t.