When the Mets lost one of the faces of their franchise last winter, a fear coursed through the fan base that the departure of Jose Reyes was the beginning of a mass exodus. Could David Wright, the franchise’s other face, once thought to be a pillar the team would build a championship team around, be next?
The issue of Wright’s long-term future remained a cloud hanging over the 2012 Mets, especially when Wright, who is under team control for 2013 with a $16 million team option, made it clear he would not negotiate an extension in-season. Then Wright got off to a torrid start, flirting with .400 for the first six weeks of the season. He played through a broken finger, put up MVP numbers and the Mets were winning. The uncertainties of the future were put on hold.
But as the Mets continue their annual second half swoon, focus has once again shifted to the future of the franchise and who will be a part of it. For his part, Wright has been diplomatic about his future, claiming that his avoidance of in-season negotiations is purely to keep his focus on the field while stating a desire to remain with the Mets long term.
“Coming up through the system, I have a tremendous amount of loyalty to this organization,” Wright told the New York Post. “I can’t tell you what the future holds, but I’m hoping — optimistic — that something will get done.”
But before Wright commits to the Mets long-term, he wants something in return. Some were shocked to learn that the man’s motivation isn’t altogether monetary, that he desires a chance to win a World Series over the almighty dollar, unlike a certain former Mets shortstop.
But why is that shocking? It shouldn’t be. I came to a realization yesterday when reading this post at another great Mets blog “The Eddie Kranepool Society.” Or maybe I just remembered something that I never should have forgotten. I remembered that what David Wright wants isn’t any different than what we want. David Wright wants to win and, frankly, he wants to win as a Met. Those who know Wright, even from afar like we as fans do, shouldn’t be stunned by that and we certainly shouldn’t be angry about it.
As we all know, Wright grew up in Virginia as a Mets fan. His home was close to the Mets’ longtime Triple-A home in Norfolk and without a team in nearby D.C. until years later, Wright gravitated toward the Mets. It was a dream come true for him when at 18-years-old he was selected by the Mets with the 38th overall pick in the 2001 draft.
Now 29, Wright’s Mets fandom is much like mine, though he’s got a few years on me. Wright was four when the Mets last won a World Series. He suffered through the dismal early and mid 90’s Mets as a kid just like I did. He almost certainly was ridiculed by bandwagon Yankees fans as they rose to glory and left the Mets in their dust. Wright was in high school when the Mets last made the World Series in 2000 and he was drafted just six months after the failed pursuit of a player who may have otherwise blocked his spot, another player who grew up a Mets fan: Alex Rodriguez.
Wright understands what it’s like for Mets supporters intimately because he’s been there both as a fan and as a player. He experienced the highs and lows before he became a member of the organization and has since experienced incredible highs (2006) and lows (every season thereafter) on the field.
He recognizes as well as you and I do that the team has been in a state of flux for several years now. Before he signs another contract, likely to be his last big one, David Wright wants to know that the commitment is there, from the top all the way on down, to getting back to what the Mets — his Mets — were on the doorstep of in 2006. He wants to be as successful as the team he watched as a young baseball dreamer in 1986. He wants his team to be revered as they were in 1999 and 2000, not a one-hit wonder as they were in 2006.
“You want to be able to win, and I’ve only experienced a little bit of that here,” Wright told the Post. “In a perfect world, we get this thing turned around and going in the right direction and ultimately I get to experience the bad, the ugly and the good here, which includes winning.”
Like you, David Wright wants to be sure what he’s signing up for. Like you, David Wright wants to understand the direction in which his team is heading. Like you, David Wright wants to make sure that the owners of the franchise have the resources to make the Mets a contender again and have our best interest in mind. Like you, David Wright wants the Mets to win.
Can we really fault him for that?