Sports fans are great at compartmentalizing things.
Whether it's your favorite team, favorite player, favorite television personality or favorite radio host, the off-the-field/off-camera exploits of the people who create what we love can affect our enjoyment. Growing up, you're aware of some of the bad elements contained within some of your heroes, but you don't fully understand it until you're an adult.
Last year, New York Knicks fans mourned the death of Anthony Mason. The 1995 Sixth Man of the Year was grit personified. He was New York to the core and represented the work ethic that many in the tri-state area believed they had. If there ever was a perfect player for those early 1990s Knicks squads, it was him. Mason's death hit many fans of a certain age like a ton of bricks.
Mason was also once arraigned on charges of statutory rape, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. His lawyer said the girls involved were lying, but (like many stories in the pre-social media age) it eventually just "faded into bolivian."
In high school, whenever we discussed sports and talked about Mason, I would refer to him as Anthony "I Swear That B**ch Was 18" Mason as a joke (note: teenage boys are the worst). The more I grew up, the more I realized how much of a problem that was to take the subject matter so lightly. But despite all of that, I still look at some highlights of the Knicks in the '90s (via YouTube or my external hard drive filled with old games) and reminisce on being a kid and... rooting for a good Knicks team.
Last October, ESPN's Kate Fagan wrote a piece on how she compartmentalized rooting for the Mets in the postseason and cheering on Daniel Murphy: a man who has openly spoken about his objection to homosexuality on the basis of his religion (Catholicism). Fagan, who's gay, wrote:
"I'm basically praising Murphy for articulating prejudice in a less-threatening way. Why is my knee-jerk reaction, Oh, but he said all those dismissive things so nicely. And now that I think about it, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" isn't about making me feel better; it's about making Murphy feel better. So I'll just flip it around on him: "Love Daniel Murphy; hate Daniel Murphy's beliefs on sexuality." Good, now I feel better about watching baseball."
I would imagine some of these dances fans do in order to root for their favorite team wholeheartedly to be quite difficult. A Cowboys fan in the '90s would have read Jeff Pearlman's "Boys Will Be Boys" just once and either change their outlook on the team... or not care because of the joy those Super Bowl championships gave them.
Rule of thumb regarding sports: the less you know about the off-the-field issues, the more you'll enjoy them.
Which brings us to Jose Reyes.
This past Saturday, the Mets signed Reyes to a minor league deal. Under any other circumstances, this would be a happy reunion for a player and a franchise that were joined at the hip for most of the 2000s. Reyes was voted to the Mets' All-Time Team in 2012. While a shell of his former self, Reyes could give the Mets the speed they desperately need in their lineup.
That's where the happy stuff ends.
Reyes wasn't even available to play until the beginning of this month because he violated the Major League Baseball's new domestic violence policy. He was arrested last Halloween after an altercation with his wife, Katherine, at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea, Hawaii. According to reports, Reyes allegedly grabbed Katherine by the throat and pushed her into a sliding-glass door in their room. A judge dropped the charges this past April after Katherine decided not to cooperate with prosecutors. Reyes was suspended without pay and forfeited $6.25 million in salary.
On Sunday after his first game with the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones, he did speak with reporters about the incident. From MLB's David Adler's transcript:
"I'm sorry for what happened. I'm a human being. People make mistakes. For me, I stand up for the terrible mistake that I made. I'm sorry to my wife, my family, to all the fans that follow me."
"I respect it if people don't like me anymore. I respect that because I put myself in that situation. But people need a second chance. I have to thank Sandy [Alderson] and Jeff [Wilpon] to get that chance to come back."
But in sports, if they think you can help them win, you will always have a job. So Reyes is back with the team that drafted him, the team where he became a star and the team he will be associated with once he stops playing baseball. But it's going to be difficult to root for Reyes if you've heard this.
What do you do if you're a woman and a Mets fan?
What do you do if you're a woman and a Mets fan and have been a victim of domestic violence?
What do you do if you're a woman and a Mets fan and are currently dealing with domestic violence?
What do you do if you know a woman who has or is currently dealing with domestic violence?
What do you do if you're a Mets fan and know a woman who's been a victim of domestic violence?
What if he actually finds the fountain of youth and helps the Mets win? How do you cheer?
Now if you excuse Met fans, they have some compartmentalizing to do.
Writer. Reporter. New Yorker.