This season seems longer than the others. Remember when we all got riled up about how stupid Steve Phillips was? Simpler times. Do you remember this?
Omar Minaya, regarding the club's lack of an edge. I think he confused edge and leadership.
Judging by how the Mets performed in each of the past two Septembers, they do lack an edge, not completely, but they don't appear to be a team that handles adversity as well as it might.
I have thought for two years that what Steve Phillips said Sunday is true -- that it is impossible, or least difficult, for David Wright to assert himself in a clubhouse of players who have more playing time than he does, players who were his "superiors" when he broke in. Even though Beltran is a quiet player with few conspicuous leadership qualities, and even though Delgado has stepped away from the leadership role, Wright defers to them.
At the time, I thought this cliched analysis was funny and worth mocking. The Mets' general manager openly criticized his two best players for nothing. After Minaya recanted the statements under scrutiny, the previous general manager reiterated them on national TV. Then the beat writer on the Mets official website agreed with both of them. It was absurd, but David Wright knew the answer:
"The definition of edge is going out there and getting a few wins, and then all of a sudden you don't have to worry about anyone talking about edge anymore"
Then several key players left the team with injuries, and the Mets had real trouble getting "a few wins." If anything, one would think this painful season would instill the importance of good players. No, instead all success was attributed to a recently acquired bad rightfielder on a hot streak. Or it was, until Matt Cain's 94 MPH fastball hit David Wright square on the head. Then, Marty Noble was singing a different tune:
Wright runs when he's supposed to, speaks when spoken to, ducks fastballs but not issues, talks to the media after the most troubling losses, represents the Mets and other companies without misspeaking, stands for good and would have appeared on boxes of Wheaties had the Mets played in the 2006 World Series.
If that isn't leadership, it'll have to do till the real thing comes along.
Mets teammates now defer to him as Mets teammates once did to Tom Seaver, Keith Hernandez, Robin Ventura and Tom Glavine, as Wright did to Todd Zeile, Mike Piazza and Carlos Delgado. "Ask David" is an increasingly common suggestion in the clubhouse.
When buying jerseys, I rarely go for the best player. I think it has to do with my need to find the most under-appreciated player on the team and compensate. I collected >500 Mike Piazza baseball cards growing up, but I never wore 31. I had a Robbie Alomar T-shirt jersey (I was 10 and we had just trade for him, no wisecracks). In 2007, I bought an Oliver Perez jersey. Granted, in between those two, I got a black Reyes-7, but never David Wright.
Another characteristic of my favorite players is that they have some exaggerated skill. I love Jack Cust, huge power but horrible contact ability. Same goes for Russel Branyan. Oliver Perez, at the time, was a good pitcher with great stuff and not-so-great control, like the Jack Cust of pitchers. I love Mark Ellis and Franklin Gutierrez for their defense, Jose Reyes for his speed.
David Wright has no exaggerated skill. He hits for average, but not like Ichiro or Pablo Sandoval. Before playing in the Grand Canyon, he hit for power, but not Piazza-power. He has good plate discipline, but still a pretty normal BB:K. His defense is good, but probably not gold-glove worthy. Wright does everything well, and the sum of the parts is an elite player, perhaps the most well-rounded in baseball. I take him for granted, but in the back of my mind I know he may be the best Met I ever see play.
Sadly it took him getting hit in the head with fastball, but the truth came out. David Wright had nothing to do with the Mets inability to reach the playoffs. Without David Wright, the Mets would have never sniffed a playoff birth, much less played deep into September for one.
Through the history of their franchise, the Mets have few homegrown superstars. They call Tom Seaver the franchise and David Wright is the first player to legitimately rival him since the Mets invented the Verducci Effect on Doc Gooden's arm.
When trying to write about the Mets as analyst, some things seem like a given. No one needs to prove how good David Wright is with numbers, but if we posted articles on this blog based on the merit of the player it would look more like: David Wright!, David Wright Applesauce, The Five Best Things David Wright Did Yesterday, David Wright v. Cubs Gamethread, Johan/Jose/Carlos too, the other guys, David Wright!.