Observing “it was about midway through last season that David Wright officially became the face of the Mets, and split from his fellow boy wonder, Jose Reyes,” Newsday’s David Lennon raises the spectre, in an understated way, mind you, of the former’s best-next-door vibe being code for something else altogether.
Somewhere between Wright’s appearance last July on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and the marketing strategy for Vitamin Water, he became the darling of Madison Avenue. Reyes had to settle for being the most electrifying — if understated — Met.
Around the same time Wright dished to New York Magazine for a behind-the-scenes exclusive last month, Reyes was featured in a lengthy and glowing Village Voice article, but with the caveat that he “has given very few interviews.”
On the surface, that makes Reyes seem almost reclusive when it comes to the media, but that is hardly the case. The only person easier to speak with in the Mets’ universe is longtime PR guru Jay Horwitz.
So why is Reyes, an All-Star and MVP candidate, still waiting to be featured solo on the sides of buses and subway cars? Not because of his gleaming smile, infectious laugh or pure joy on a baseball field. Despite New York’s love affair with the Dominican shortstop, there often can be a gap between the Latino or Asian player and the fan base, from both a marketing and media standpoint.
“I think there is,” said Carlos Delgado, a 13-year veteran. “It doesn’t matter how many international players we have, the main media in the United States speaks English. So you can have players from Japan like Ichiro, who gets the recognition, but he doesn’t get the same exposure to the extent that he gets in Japan. Even like Chan Ho Park in Korea. There’s still a gap there.”
The Mets created a perfect bridge to the fans for Reyes last season when they came up with the Professor Reyes segment on the leftfield DiamondVision screen. In the show, Reyes picks a Spanish word, such as guapo (handsome) or veloz (fast), and selected fans try to pronounce it, with Reyes critiquing their efforts. It was one of the most popular segments, and Reyes taped new episodes during spring training.
“I watch it sometimes on the field,” Reyes said. “Everyone seems to like it and that’s fun for me.”
Unlike Wright, who polled fans through Internet voting to determine a song for his fourth at-bat, Reyes picked all four himself for Monday’s home opener at Shea Stadium. The first two are Reggaeton beats, including one of his own making, followed by a couple of hip-hop tunes, DJ Unk’s “Walk It Out” and Mims’ “This Is Why I’m Hot.”