In a post to CBS New York by Jason Keidel, David Wright is portrayed as solid player who never asked to be the team’s leader, and is frequently chastised by fans for not being one. He writes,
What has Wright done so wrong? He doesn’t sign a $36 million contract and then loaf his way to the back of the bullpen. He doesn’t stomp his father-in-law in the family room in front of his employer and then spend a night in the Citi brig. He doesn’t mime his way through a season until it’s time to visit wounded soldiers (“Sometimes you see people with no legs, no arms. I don’t like to see that”). He doesn’t challenge an entire minor league team to a fistfight. Other Mets do that.
You want him to choke his bat and his lazy teammates with equal force, assuming that a squad’s best player is also their most vocal. There are at least 25 teams that would love him in their lineup, and moving Wright would make the Mets a decidedly worse baseball club.
Wright has become a lightning rod in many ways, with one side saying he doesn’t do enough and the other side saying he does plenty.
My biggest fear is that one day Wright just gets sick of playing for a fanbase that seems unappreciative of what he’s accomplished. I worry that when the time comes, he’ll simply bolt and go where he doesn’t have to play in a fishbowl or be expected to do more than what he already has, which is very substantial.
By the end of next season, Wright could become the franchise leader in about a dozen different offensive categories.
That said, he does leave many of us wanting more. Why is that?
Some say that too few of his homeruns are memorable, or that too often he comes up short with runners in scoring position and the team down by a run or two. I think one of the most misunderstood criticisms of Wright is that because he is the face of the franchise, it automatically assumes the premise that he is their unequivocal leader as well, and clearly he is not.
Wright is just a kid who grew up loving the game and worked hard to get where he is today. He never asked to be in the limelight or to be a leader or even the face of the franchise. These things were all bestowed upon him by the media, the front office and the fans. It seems unfair when you look at it from Wright’s perspective. All he wants to do is play baseball and do the best that he can, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so because he’s the one that many fans point to as the blame for the last few failed seasons. “He’s a leader, he’s supposed to carry the team on his back”, one person told me. Of course that’s not true, and as for all the recent failures, the blame goes to the entire team and organization and not just one player.
Sooner or later something’s gotta give.
I hate to say this, but David Wright may be one of those players who won’t really be appreciated until he’s gone. Before David Wright, the Mets went through a record high 130 different third basemen in 42 seasons. That’s mind boggling when you think about it.
If you were to throw out all the intangibles for just a moment and strictly look at Wright objectively and judge him against other third baseman in franchise history, or against his contemporaries in the National League, or even his place in baseball history against some of the all time greats, Wright stacks up incredibly well. But in a city where winning means everything, things are never that easy.
The Mets must shoulder much of the blame for how Wright has been perceived. They could have done a more capable job of surrounding Wright with the complimentary players the team needed to get to a championship. It was a near miss in 2006, and two close calls in 2007 and 2008, and no team won more games in that span, but it’s not nearly enough for a fan base starving for another winner. We’re a tough crowd.
Robin Ventura, Ray Knight and Wayne Garrett couldn’t hold their own in a statistical head-to-head matchup with David Wright. Wright simply blows them all away and that’s an understatement. But mention those other third basemen to lifelong die-hard Mets fans and they’ll gush and drool about their greatness for hours.
That’s because in the end… Winning is everything.