The street I live on is a fairly quiet residential one lane road. Three miles to the south it meanders up into the foothills that look down on the valley. It gives way to an expansive residence, the proverbial mansion on the hill. At night, the home is illuminated in a sea of blackness. There’s nothing close by and the property seems big enough to warrant its own zip code. On many Saturday nights, I will catch a glimpse of stretch limos and even vans taking guests to the manor. Last year, as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney frequented my hometown, on two occasions I saw armor plated limos heading ‘up the hill.’
The owner is obviously wealthy, a multi-millionaire probably hundreds of times over. One thing I can say is that I don’t feel sorry for the guy.
Therefore, why do I feel sorry for another multi-millionaire named David Wright?
This year David will earn $16 million. If he plays every game this season, he will earn in one afternoon more than most of us earn in an entire year: $98,765. If he plays every single inning of every single game, David will make $10,974 per inning! But yet, I actually feel bad for the man.
David’s a stand-up guy. He’s been the face of the franchise for almost a decade now and will continue to be. He’s a clean cut athlete who stays out of trouble and is never caught up in scandalous headlines or PED rumors. He’s the type of ballplayer you can have your kids look up to. After a tough loss, it’s David who sits in front of his locker and patiently answers all the repetitive questions hurled at him from reporters. While most of his teammates head off to the showers and refuse to talk to the media, David does his job by helping the media do theirs.
He has all the similar traits of another much loved and revered Met by the name of Tom Seaver.
David Wright is only 30 and has already solidified his spot as the best all-around hitter in team history. Safe to say, he will break every team record by the time he leaves. He may also surpass Ed Kranepool as the longest tenured Met.
And this past winter, Sandy Alderson, to his credit, did lock up #5 for the long term. While I do applaud Alderson’s decision and thank David for his loyalty to the blue and orange, I still find myself feeling a bit sorry for him. I feel sorry that he drank Alderson’s Kool-Aid.
Athletes, like the rest of us, want to earn as much money as possible. Unlike Mike Hampton, who accepted an exorbitant salary from the Rockies and claimed his reason for going to Colorado was for the better school system, David is a class act.
The Mets GM tells us we are rebuilding. That it will take 3-5 years. By that time, David will be in his mid 30’s, his most productive years behind him. Yes, money is important, but to a professional athlete winning is more important than money. You cant buy a World Series ring.
While I applaud David’s loyalty (I never thought he’d stay), I wonder if he regrets his decision. Let’s be honest. No one is expecting a World Series flag flying over Citi Field anytime soon. Hell, no one’s even expecting us to be competitive in the foreseeable future.
I’m reminded of a little known pitcher named Ed Lynch. Lynch was mostly a spot-starter for the hapless Mets in the early 80’s. From 81-85, Lynch tossed 708 IP and posted a respectable 3.74 era. He was a workhorse who was 38-40 for a team that was far under .500. He was here as the Mets rebuilt. He was teammates with the likes of Lee Mazzilli, Hubie Brooks and John Pacella. Lynch was injured coming into the 1986 season and on June 30, after 6 years of service and just 4 months before the Mets won it all, Lynch was traded to the Cubs for the unforgettable Dave Liddell and Dave Lenderman. (who???) Ed Lynch missed all the fun.
Will this same fate meet David Wright? By the time the Mets are competitive, Wright may very well be expendable, his best days behind him.
I also fret about the boo birds. In spite of David’s stellar career and now being named Captain even he has not been without his critics. It’s been implied that he needs to be a leader on the field as well. I, too, would like to see him assume that leadership role, a la Keith Hernandez. But simply, some guys are not made that way. They don’t have that genetic makeup. And that’s not a slam on him. Cooperstown is filled with players who were not ‘team leaders.’ But yet, now that David is making $98,765 per game, will he be unfairly expected to assume that role?
His stats over the last 4 years (09-12) are still respectable. But they do fall short of the numbers he put up the previous 4 seasons (05-08.)
As the Mets “rebuild,” one can’t help but wonder if David’s numbers will continue to suffer. It’s very likely there won’t be anyone at the top of the batting order he can bring home. And very little protection behind him. In 2012, David’s line was 307-21-93. Solid stats. But even if he manages to repeat those respectable numbers, are those the type of stats that, along with not being a team leader, warrant $16 million?
David is a much loved Met. No doubt about that. But as we will stumble our way through another season, as the dog days of summer drag on, as attendance drops and our big battle will be beating Miami to stay out of the cellar, I wonder if Wright may unfairly be booed. It seems like there’s always a fall guy, someone to blame, be it Willie Randolph, Aaron Heilman, coaches, even trainers.
So, to David Wright, I thank you. Thanks for being a stand-up guy. Thanks for remaining loyal to the blue and orange. Thanks for not being all about the money and giving Alderson a chance.
He may wind up like Cobb and never win a World Series. Or Williams and never get to play in one. But hey, think of the bright side. Maybe 20 years from now the #5 will be in a circle on the outfield wall alongside #41.