David Wright - Met for Life
Michael Baron - MetsBlog.com
After 50 years of baseball, the Mets finally have their franchise player. David Wright signed an 8-year contract worth $140 million, making him the highest paid player in club history. The deal should bring him to the end of his career in an orange and blue uniform.
Wright is the soft-spoken leader of the squad, able to talk to any of his young teammates and teach them how to handle each situation. On top of that, not only is he the guy that you would want your daughter to marry, but also he may be the most humble athlete in all of sports.
He is a throwback, and quite frankly, they don’t make them like him anymore. He’s special. There was no way that this kid was leaving. The only factor that could halt him was getting that long-term contract done.
The same way Derek Jeter grew up a Yankee fan, and dreamed of being the Yankees starting shortstop. Wright dreamed, achieved, and will now walk alongside the legendary Captain as being a great one who never left, in an era where those people are considered as extinct as dinosaurs.
"If he somewhat sees that in me, that would be a tremendous compliment coming from a guy like that," Wright said of Jeter a few months back. "Being a young player in New York, you try to mold your game after certain people on the field and off the field, and he's No. 1 on my list as far as guys you try to emulate and really try to learn from.”
Like Jeter, when it’s all said and done Wright will not only be the best player in team history. He’ll also be known as Mr. Met (minus the oversized head). When you think of Met greats you automatically think of their current ambassador Tom Seaver, and then Carter, Koosman, Gooden, Strawberry, and Piazza.
While those guys are among the best to ever wear a Met uniform, none of them can say they only wore the blue, orange, and white for the entirety of their career. Heck, even Seaver was traded after ten and a half seasons, before rejoining the team for another season in 1983.
Meanwhile, only “Tom Terrific” dons a Met cap on his plague in Cooperstown, but that number should change five years after Wright wraps up his career. During just nine seasons in flushing he already is the franchise leader in hits, runs batted in, doubles, total bases, and runs.
As a kid in Chesapeake, Virginia, he dreamed of being the greatest Met ever. The funny thing is he’s already achieved that before age 30. He has already accumulated 204 homers, 816 RBIs, 1422 hits, career .301 average, two Gold Glove awards, two Silver Slugger awards, and six All-Star appearances.
He is an All-Star on and off the field, and the whole time he has gone about his business quietly and humbly. Despite playing in the bright lights of New York, he has never garnered the fan fair that the other athletes on Broadway receive.
Yet Wright, who is arguably the best third baseman in the game, is rarely spoken about, as media rather talk about Jets second-string quarterback Tim Tebow, or Jeremy Lin. One big reason for that is the Mets lack of success, as they have failed to make the postseason since 2006 and haven’t brought a championship to the city since 1986.
The organization is in good hands with longtime baseball minds Terry Collins and General Manager Sandy Alderson, who are building from the inside to make the Mets relevant again. Now they can surely sleep better at night knowing that their star is locked up for years to come.
It doesn’t get much more special than doing it all for one team, especially in a day and age when money trumps loyalty. Look around baseball, with Chipper Jones' retirement only Jeter, Rivera, Todd Helton, and Paul Konerko are with the same organization since the 90’s. Ever so rarely do franchise players come around, and it’s even rarer that they stick around. Just think Albert Pujols.
Now, one day Wright will eventually replace Jeter as the longest tenured player in the Sport. Out of the active players who have played for one team only Jeter, Helton, Michael Young, and Jimmy Rollins have played in more games with their respective team than Wright.
Wright will have the special chance to grow great and old at his craft in only one place, something not many players can say. In recent days Wright’s teammates R.A. Dickey and Jonathon Niese noted that he would like to be viewed similarly to how Jones is regarded by Atlanta Braves fans.
Last season became one long farewell tour for the Braves great, who walked away after nineteen seasons at the hot corner in Atlanta. At every ball-park he visited for the final time he was showered with parting gifts, and a huge ovation. Even so in Flushing during his last visit, despite nineteen years of tormenting Mets and their fans.
Five years from now, he will be enshrined in Cooperstown and go down alongside Mike Schmidt and George Brett as one of the three best players to ever play the hot corner. The three legends are all symbolic of their respective franchises, and all played their entire career in one city, and now Wright will do the same. It seems as if Wright is taking the baton from Jones, and when he eventually passes it down he will be in the conversation as one of the greats to play third base.
This contract ensures that he will be a Met through 2020. By then he will be 38 years young and by a landslide the greatest Met ever. This wasn’t about Wright accepting a contract extension, but about a lifelong Met fan and Met becoming the next ambassador to the franchise that he will dedicate the rest of his life to.