Bay’s Nightmare

Bay's tenure in Queens has been a nightmare.

I can never again roll my eyes when Jason Bay walks into the batter’s box.  I can never again get angry when he pops up or swings through a hittable fastball or chases a slider in the dirt.  Because while I used to think Bay’s tenure with the Mets has been a nightmare for us fans, it finally hit me on Friday (when Bay hit the wall) that it’s probably more of a nightmare for Jason.

Signing somewhere as a Free Agent is a choice.  It’s like having a steady job, then accepting another offer from another company.  If things don’t go well at your new place, you start to feel regret.  Jason Bay is too much of a professional, too much of a class individual and teammate (by all accounts) to show any regret.  But deep down, is there a part of him that wishes he stayed in Boston, or signed somewhere else?

There’s no guarantee that he would have continued his 30 HR, 100 RBI ways in another city (From ’05 to ’09 he had at least those totals 3 times), but his drop off the statistical cliff was so dramatic when he came to Queens, at the age of 30, why not factor in his location?

And why not factor in bad luck?  I’m not usually the superstitious type, but look at what has happened to Bay over the last 2+ years he’s spent with the Mets.

On Opening Day, 2010, he whistled a drive off the 415 sign of the cavernous right-center field wall.  It went as a triple.  It would have been a home run in any other ballpark.  As the early season went on, long fly balls to left were gobbled up by Citi Field.  The frustration was visible in Bay’s face.  The dimensions clearly got in his head.

That year, he didn’t hit his first home run until April 27.  He didn’t hit his next until a 2-homer game on May 23.  He would hit only 3 more the rest of the year – a year that ended for him in July thanks to a concussion he suffered, slamming into the left field wall while attempting to make a catch.

Despite his relative health in 2011, it was more of the same.  He finished with only 12 HRs and an OPS barely above .700.  He showed signs of breaking out of his 2-year funk in September, but it was against September pitching – either guys not quite ready for the bigs, or guys who were just playing out the string.

This year, once again, we fans waited with bated breath to see Bay return to his pre-Flushing form.  He had gotten hits in 9 of his last 10 games in April before he injured his ribs trying to make a diving catch in left field.  He came back off the DL this month, going 2-25, with a home run against the Twins.

Then on Friday he suffered his second concussion in 3 years with the Mets when tried to make a lunging catch on a deep fly ball by the Reds’ Jay Bruce.  The ball glanced off his glove, and Bay’s head slammed into the wall.  He stumbled to his feet and managed to throw the ball to the cutoff man, but Bruce beat the relay throw, and slid safely into home with an inside-the-park home run.  He walked off the field with minimal help from the trainers.  His legs buckled under him like a fawn trying to walk for the first time.  But he stayed on 2 feet.

He would exit the game to get tested for a concussion, but the few troglodytes in the Citi Field stands who booed him are the ones who really should have had their heads examined.

I know he makes more money than most of us can dream of, but I think that’s the furthest thing from his mind when he’s in the batting cage, in the batter’s box, or in the field.  Jason Bay has done nothing but play full throttle every day, he’s been a great teammate, and he’s handled himself with class.  He’s never complained, he’s just worked hard to try to get better.  He’s stayed steady through the toughest period of his major league career – and it’s been harder on him than it has on us fans.

Paul is a freelance writer, blogger, and broadcast technology professional residing in Denver. A New Jersey native, he is a long-suffering Mets fan, a recently-happy Giants fan, and bewildered Islanders fan. He's also a fair-weather Avalanche and Rockies supporter. In his spare time, he enjoys the three Gs: Golf, Guitars, and Games.
  1. gary s. June 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm
    All true.The problem is everybody who roots for the Mets (including myself) wants to assign blame,If Minaya was still the GM we could all blame him, but he is long gone.Next year they will have to release him a la Perez and Castillo and than his contract and lack of any production will be a moot point.
  2. Joe June 18, 2012 at 9:58 pm
    I respect Bay’s professionalism, drive, seems to be a nice guy and defensively, he was fine. And, the injuries are tragic at this point, though injuries are part of the game. At some point though, it gets to be a bit different.

    Still, I thought the deal that brought him to the Mets was of a piece with other money disposal schemes. He was basically the only person of any note signed and they put all their money in one basket. Paid too much and too long for a player due to be in decline or at best a question mark in his new environs. The injuries just makes it more depressing.

    It’s time to cut bait. It’s time. I can’t believe he has zero value. Eat most of the contract and get SOMETHING for him. He can play elsewhere with a diminished role and with less to prove. It’s just gets too hard after awhile watching him here.

    If we respect him as you say, that would be the best thing.

    • gary s. June 19, 2012 at 12:38 am
      Remember all the rumors about Castillo being traded before he was released?Nobody wanted him at any price.Bay is in the same boat.Huge contract, no production spells release to me
      • Joe June 19, 2012 at 10:18 am
        Yeah, with yet another injury, that unfortunately might be true, though some team might for a fraction of his contact might see someone who has something as a bench player.
  3. NormE June 19, 2012 at 7:34 am
    Good article, Paul.
    About that first concussion in LA, if I remember correctly, he actually made the catch.
    I wish Jason Bay good health and good luck with the rest of his life. He always hustled and I’ll root for any player who does that.
  4. James June 19, 2012 at 8:43 pm
    Here’s another way of looking at it. Every year there are stupid tragic signings, and even if the players care, I guarantee you they care less when they home to their plush gorgeous estate. That takes a lot of the incentive away. The Mike Hamptons, Jason Werth, similar to Bay, even Jose Reyes (can you believe Reyes has scored only 30 runs so far??? Neuwenheis has scored 38. All of these guys went for the money. Did they think about right fit in terms of team, stadium, city, etc. In some cases yes, but essentially it’s about the dollars nine times out of 10. And then you find out, yes, there is more to life than money. (Even Santana who could succeed anywhere has lost about 15 wins because of poor run support compared to better teams.) So, yes I believe Bay is getting what he deserves. He knew the dimensions before he came, and he should have guessed his production would fall off. And who knows if steroids were involved here. So I will boo Bay every day until he is gone unless he starts hitting better (but not when he is injured of course.)
    • Crozier June 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm
      You have provided no data to support your contention. Long before the age of huge contracts, players’ performances went into decline after the age of 30, and it continues to happen today.
  5. Neil Peart June 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm
    Sorry, results are all that count for me. I’m no monster; I derive zero joy from the fact that he’s in pain. But the guy’s been a bust of historically epic proportions. Looking at the situation pragmatically, this team is better and more fun to watch when Jason Bay is out of the lineup.