Heart is such an important characteristic necessary to build a championship team. And many fans have concluded that this is a trait that David Wright lacks.
In response to fan chatter, David has set out on a journey in order to find heart. And Jose Reyes has gone along for the ride in hopes of finding a brain (but that’s another story). This post will focus on heart and whether or not it’s possible for Mets players to amass enough of it to compete in 2010. Because if David finds it, he can bring plenty back to share with his his teammates.
In today’s world of annoying numbers and statistics, it is now possible to calculate a players heart. Just to make the playoffs, a team must total at least 150 points (average of six per player) of measurable, quantifiable heart. However, to go deeper into the playoffs, heart level must keep increasing.
In 2006 the Mets, arguably had the most heart of any team all season long. However, the Cardinals, mediocre in wins and heart all season, dug down deep inside themselves and surpassed the Mets during game seven of the NLCS. Unfortunately Floyd, Reyes and Beltran who made the final three outs in the 9th inning could not respond with additional heart.
In 2007 we lost heart late in the season and thus didn’t make the playoffs. Ramon Castro thought he had hit a grand slam home run against Dontrelle Willis which would have cut the Marlins lead in that fateful last game of the season to 7-5 still in the bottom of the first. Who knows what would have happened if that ball had carried over the wall. Castro, although proclaimed by many fans who knew him intimately, was said to have a lot of heart, but in the end he did not and so the ball died at the wall.
In 2008, the Mets showed very little heart early in the season. When Manuel replaced Randolph, heart began increasing and reached 150 by mid September. But similarly to 2007, heart dropped below the magic level during the last few days of the season.
Let’s analyze the 2008 World Champion Phillies. That year Brad Lidge was perfect saving all 41 of 41 opportunities. On the next to last day of the season in a game against the Nationals, the Phillies led 4-2 as the Nats came to bat in the bottom of the 9th. Lidge proceeded to give up three singles and a walk to cut the lead to 4-3. One run in, bases loaded, and one out.
Fortunately for the Phillies, Lidge had the heart of a champion (although I don’t think he does anymore). That’s why he was able to induce Ryan Zimmerman to scorch a ball up the middle that Rollins dove for and grabbed in the web of his glove, flipped backhand to Utley who threw to first for an incredible game ending double play. Game over. It could easily have been 40 of 41 saves and the Phillies might not have made the playoffs. If the Phillies had lost that game, and after Santana’s two hit complete game shutout of the Marlins, the Phillies and Mets would have been tied with only Sunday’s game left.
Can Wright be successful on his journey to find heart? Along the way, there will be plenty of crossroads and detours which could throw him off course. Wallace Matthews and Mike Francesa amongst many others will stake their claim to knowing with certainty how individual Mets players are heartless, brainless or lack courage; and can never be winners. And after repeating their claims over and over and over, gullible fans will unequivocally believe that David Wright doesn’t have the heart to be a winner or leader of this team.
Heart is defined as the courage to carry on during difficult times. Must you be born with it? Or can it be acquired? Can you have only some? For sure it can’t possibly be measured or quantified. It is intangible.
Muhammad Ali said, “Champions aren´t made in the gym. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”
Having heart is not synonymous with winning. Claiming that it is, is purely an emotional and sophomoric take on things. Heart cannot be seen by tweeting fans who watch on TV, read newspapers, and listen to talk radio. We do not know the thoughts, feelings and aspirations which lie deeply embedded inside David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy. Neither are pennants won during the off season, or on paper, and the media doesn’t play the games. I find it unbelievable that David Wright could have had so much heart in 2006, but over the last three years lost it.
There will be 162 games starting in April and the Mets will play each and everyone of them. Wins and losses are what it’s all about. And they are measurable and quantifiable.
Otherwise, it’s goodbye yellow brick road.