On the final day of the season when the Red Sox are fighting for their playoff lives, ..."/> On the final day of the season when the Red Sox are fighting for their playoff lives, ..."/>

On 70th Anniversary, Reyes is no Splendid Splinter

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On the final day of the season when the Red Sox are fighting for their playoff lives, other clubs and players are playing for personal achievements.  For example, Jose Reyes of the New York Mets is in good shape to be able to add an NL batting title to his resume after Reyes got a bunt single in the first inning of the Mets game this afternoon. 

After the single, Reyes was removed from the game in order to hold his batting average at .337, which should be good enough to hold off Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers (.335 entering play tonight).

What’s so intriguing about this story is that Reyes will most likely win the batting title on the same day that marks the 70th anniversary of when Ted Williams ended the year with a .406 average.  It was also the last season that any major league player has hit over .400 in a season.

But unlike Reyes, Williams chose not to come out of the game, despite a personal achievement on the line.

The year was 1941 and the “Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams entered the final day of the season with a batting average of .39955.  Had he not taken one at-bat that day, his average would’ve been rounded up to .400, setting the mark and winning the batting title.  But in true, classy style, Williams decided to play on the fnal day and went 6 for 8 at the plate, boosting his average to the now legendary mark of .406.

When people talk about Ted Williams, they often refer to him as “the greatest hitter to ever play the game” and what he did 70 years ago today is even more proof.  Perhaps the mark that Williams set wouldn’t have such iconic status had he chose not to play that final day in 1941.  Sure, it’s not a World Series championship, but consider what he did on that day.  He risked his personal achievement and still went out and was able to accomplish the .400 feat making the record even more impressive.

For Reyes, who is bound to be one of the top names in the free agent frenzy this offseason, he just boosted his stock when adds NL batting champ behind his name.  So did he do it for the money?  He’ll no doubt cash in this winter when one team grossly overpays him for his services, but they’ll be able to say “we just acquired a former batting champ.”  Big deal.

What does it say about Reyes’s character by him leaving the game.  What about the fans that showed up for the last day of the season to see Reyes in what could be the last time in a Mets uniform?  They see him for one at bat and he’s done for the day.  Classy?  Not in the least.  Maybe they should put an asterisk beside Reyes’ name when they put him in the record books for the 2011 NL batting champion.  I would love to see Ryan Braun go out tonight and go 4 for 4 at the plate and steal the title right out from under Reyes.

To say “they don’t make them like they used to” is an understatment.    The Kid is probably rolling over in his grave after hearing what just happened in New York.

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