Jose Reyes beats out Brewers' Ryan Braun for NL batting title

This was a day of emotion: Wild, swinging, and complex. It was a day of anxiety, anger and pride. It was a day of boos and cheers for Jose Reyes, uncertainty about his future, and postgame tears choking a manager's words.

The Mets defeated Cincinnati 3-0 Wednesday to finish the season 77-85, but that result had no impact on the elevated feelings. This circus revolved around Reyes, his attempt to win the first batting title in franchise history, and his looming free agency.

Only one of those reached resolution, after Milwaukee's Ryan Braun went 0-for-4 in a night game, clinching the honor for Reyes. He finished the year at .337, while Braun batted .332.

Many exhausting hours earlier, the last day of school began: Ten minutes before nine in the morning, Reyes arrived alone in the Mets clubhouse.

"I think I slept a couple of hours," he said, his ebullient persona dulled by stress and fatigue. "This year is the first year of my career that I'm going to be a free agent. I don't know what's going to happen, so that's the thing that I'm thinking about."

The batting race did not, however, add to his anxiety; Reyes had a plan for that, and he presented it to Terry Collins. "Before the game, I said, 'If I go 1-for-1, take me out of the game,' Reyes explained when it was over.

He led off the bottom of the first with a bunt single, to lift his league. Then, Justin Turner sprung from the dugout to pinch run.

Some of the still-settling crowd booed, while others cheered for Reyes. Confusion reigned. The jeering was stronger at the end of the inning, but the many in the crowd chanted "Please Stay, Jose" in the ninth.

Internet indignation arose instantly, as it tends to do. Texas Rangers ace C.J. Wilson tweeted, "taking out a star player to preserve his batting average lead...weak! I hope ryan braun goes 5- 5 and wins the title now"

Braun himself declined to criticize Reyes, saying in  Milwaukee, "I respect whatever decision he decided to make, and ultimately he left the door open for me."

Then, after the game, Collins succumbed to emotion. "I heard some comments in the stands, and I don't blame them," the manager said, his voice breaking, and then stopping altogether as he began to cry.

"People pay a good price to come to these games, and they got to understand that I ask these players to do a lot.. We worked hard to get their respect this year, and they deserve ours, so ."

And why was Collins so emotional?

"Pride, very much so," he said.

Said Reyes: "It was kind of tough. I wanted to stay in the game, but they have to understand, too, what's going on. They have to feel happy about it if I win the batting title. I do that for the team, and for the fans, too. Because like I said, they've been supporting me the whole way through."

Still, he knew that he would face criticism. "I don't care what people say," Reyes said. "Last year, I played seven innings. In the seventh inning I came out of the game, the last game."

David Wright defended his longtime friend. "I don't see what the big deal is," Wright said. "You have that many plate appearances, I don't think it's fair criticism to get one more plate appearance."

Several minutes later, while leaving the clubhouse for what might have been the final time, Reyes spotted Wright.

" 'D,' " he said, initiating a firm handshake and hug.

"Keep in touch, OK?" Wright answered.

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