There's going to be a lot of Jackie Robinson in the air on Wednesday night in Queens. Many fans will enter Citi Field through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, where they'll see video highlights of Robinson's career, and when they get to the field they'll see the number 42 for miles. Every player on the Mets and Padres will wear number 42 as part of Major League Baseball's annual tribute to the man who broke baseball's color line.
If Jose Reyes gets on third base at the right time, they may see one more bit of Robinson in action. The Mets shortstop confided to the New York Times that Robinson's exploits as a baserunner have inspired him to try to steal home.
"I want to try, but they always talk to me about it," Reyes said. "When Carlos Delgado is hitting, the third baseman is almost playing at shortstop. That’s why I can take a huge lead there. I’m going to try and do it. Sooner or later, you’re going to see me."
That would be something to see. There were just seven successful steals of home in 2008, out of 26 total attempts, which underscores how incredible Robinson's career record of 19 steals in 31 attempts. The element of surprise is paramount, Robinson surrendered that and still victimized the opposing pitchers.
Reyes is certainly an heir to Robinson's ability to distract pitchers. His dancing down the third-base line has caused more than one pitcher to balk in a run, and the threat of Reyes taking off hangs heavily every time he finds himself on base.
Although the airwaves Tuesday were filled with Mets fans who felt that Citi Field placed Dodger history above Mets history, they'd probably be okay with this homage to a bygone National League favorite.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.