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200 Miles From the Citi


December 2, 2012 12:36 AM

Face Of The Franchise

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Sunday Paper (Year 4, Volume XLIX)

The Mets seemingly made a lifetime commitment to David Wright late last week.

The deal is scheduled to be announced this week, pending a physical.

It will keep Wright a member of the Mets through the age of 37, and fulfills the wish he has often stated - that he could be with the Mets for his entire playing career.

And maybe beyond.

But hearing all of the reasoning from both sides, David Wright's name was placed in some lofty, lofty company...and he has a lot of work to do over these next 8 years if he is going to live up to those comparisons.

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In reports this week it was said that Wright wanted to spend his entire career with one team like his boyhood baseball idol, Cal Ripken, Jr. He wanted to go out with the Mets like he watched Chipper Jones go out with the Braves last year. And from the Mets' point of view, they want to see Wright remain an ambassador for the team following his playing career in the same way 'The Franchise', Tom Seaver, has been for the Mets the past couple of decades.

Besides being automatically associated with their franchises, what else do those men have in common?

They've all been World Series champs. They're all Hall of Famers. (I think Jones will be, at least. I'm bad at those Hall of Fame prognostications.) They've been MVP's. (Well, Seaver hasn't, but as a pitcher he earned MVP votes, which is worth something, and he's won multiple Cy Young Awards. So we'll call it even.)

I know Wright isn't a World Series champ yet - in fact, he's only been to the post-season once. (Compare that with Jones' post-season appearances.) He's earned some MVP votes, but isn't usually regarded as a strong MVP candidate. (Late-season fades have contributed to that.) I think he has a long way to go to be considered a Hall of Fame candidate.

I think I sound skeptical that this was a good move for the Mets. In fact, I love it. David Wright is the first player I've watched grow from minor leaguer to successful major leaguer (I'll explain more in the bullets below) in the Mets' system. He seems like a great guy. I love the idea that he can finish out his career (and beyond) with the Mets.

But I guess I'm somewhat skeptical. Because even Tom Seaver was traded. There's just been so much talk about how it would be a good move for the Mets to unload Wright for tons of prospects and completely rebuild...and while that still may happen with R.A. Dickey, who's to say if the Mets don't play well in 2013 or 2014 that it won't happen with Wright too? I mean, 8 or 9 years ago this could have been an article about Nomar Garciaparra with the Red Sox...and he was traded and the team went on to win a World Series without him. Two, in fact.

It sounds great now. But David Wright won't win a championship by himself. And I suspect that without a championship, that life-long affiliation with the team will be painted a little differently than the one enjoyed by Tom Seaver.

*Re: David Wright being the first player I've watched grow from minor leaguer to successful major leaguer: With the stars of the '80's, I was too young to have seen them do anything in the minors. And even then, it's not like today where minor league games are broadcast or you can follow them on the internet. With the '90's prospects, I was able to keep better tabs on them - Isringhausen, Wilson, Pulsipher - but, of course, that element of 'major league success' was missing. I didn't get swept up in Jose Reyes until he was in the majors - but with David Wright - we were in on the ground floor. I wrote about the day he was called up, and you can go back and track most of his time at Norfolk in 2004 when the blog was born (click the 'Wright Watch' tag). I wrote about it a bit last year when Matt Harvey was called up - seeing a young player blossom is one of the most exciting things to watch and experience. 

*The latest word from Terry Collins on the Wright signing is that Collins will now pursue making Wright the team's captain. The Mets haven't had one since 2004. I like that idea too, and all of this together makes me a little less skeptical that Wright won't spend eternity with the Mets.

*More on Dickey: I guess the Mets aren't actively shopping him, but as they try to work out a longer-term deal with the Cy Young Award winner, they're fielding calls and exploring possibilities of a trade. As long as it makes the team better, I promise I won't be too upset with any blockbuster deals the Mets make.

*A couple of idiots affiliated with the Jets spoke their minds this week:
-Bart Scott was upset fans shouted down the Jets as they went to the locker room at halftime of the Patriots' thrashing of the Jets on Thanksgiving. Well, I suppose he wasn't upset. Because he doesn't care what the fans think, he said in so many words - some of which insulted said fans in a way that showed he was kind of upset. He backtracked after Rex Ryan defended fans' rights to say what they want. While I feel some of the fans in the videos that surfaced after Thanksgiving were over the top (or, normal, based on my experience among Jets fans) - you won't see me taking my daughters to an NFL game for that very reason - they do have every right to put down these Jets players. One simple solution to all of this: Play better.
-And "Fireman Ed" announced he would no longer be "Fireman Ed". This has gotten beyond ridiculous over the years. When I was a kid it was a fun novelty to find Ed Anzalone in Giants Stadium from our upper deck seats and watch as he led the crowd in the J-E-T-S chant. It was a good time. Then the Jets started putting him on the video boards, then the NFL started featuring him on television, and he became a mini-celebrity. It went to his head. It became ridiculous. On Opening Day this year the Jets had Anzalone on the field giving this rant about how everyone thought the Jets were 'clowns' (remember that story - it was the talk heading into the season). I turned to my dad as Anzalone ranted like a loon and said, "Yes. Everyone is wrong for thinking the Jets are a bunch of clowns. This is the least clownish thing I've ever seen." As I wrote about last week, hopefully the Jets will turn a corner with some new personnel. I'm OK without a self-proclaimed fan mascot being part of that future.

*This week on Peter King's SI NFL Podcast he had fellow SI writer Pete Thamel on. (First of all - it's a great podcast - an hour a week, published on Wednesdays during the NFL season. I'm enjoying my NFL season of being a Peter King fan. Too bad it's not making me any more knowledgeable with my NFL picks.) Thamel is on the college football beat. What surprised me the most about their interview is not how much knowledge Thamel had about college football, but the cost of all that knowledge. I can't imagine someone who follows the NCAA so closely not following those players into the NFL - but Thamel clearly had some gaps in his NFL knowledge. It was surprising to me.

*The SEC Championship Game Saturday night was really fun to watch. It looked for a while like Georgia might pull it out - which I think was Notre Dame's shot at winning it all. I'm not sure how well ND matches up with Alabama...although, 'Bama certainly looked beatable Saturday night.

*I'm waiting to hear from Dave in New Jersey - he's a commercial actor expert - about whether this is true or not, but I've decided that the new DirecTV ad series, with the cable box pop-up blocker, features the same family. It's hard to tell, because they're in such different contexts in each of the commercials - in the bathroom with the woman coming out of the shower in the first, the bedroom with the guy in his underwear in the second, then the pool outside in the third, and there's not an extended look at any of them. It's hard to tell, but the dad's smarminess in all of them is the giveaway to me.

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