The first true highlight of the Mets’ 50th Anniversary Season has come. There is a great measure of correctness to this. For this players’ achievement is something that is untainted by so many of today’s pollutants of the game and worthy of our respect. There is something rather apropos about our first highlight of the season. There is indeed, something very WRIGHT about this.
David Wright has arrived at the top of the Mets All-Time RBI list. He tied, and will break Darryl Strawberry’s club record. And it is good. If it
works out that David continues his career in a Mets uniform, he will eventually own most of the club’s all-time offensive records.
Does the fact David Wright is a home grown product add extra added value to this accomplishment? Yes, absolutely. Deep down inside, I don’t believe Mets Fans ever wanted a carpetbagger; albeit a beloved and most favored one – not to mention a sure Hall of Famer; like Mike Piazza dominating our club records.
Much has been made this season regarding the abundance of homegrown players on the team. Make no mistake, they have all truly been a breath of fresh air. But do you really know why they have made us so happy already?
Answers I’d expect are:
* Youthful exuberance is contagious.
* You subscribe to the building from within system.
* A decent start has reinforced your confidence we are headed in the right direction.
* Young players generally keep their mouths shut, don’t have egos, and just want to play ball.
* etc. etc.
I say the dominant reason is this type of thing is in our genes. This is the Met way. And for a while, we were lost. It is more than just good, and WRIGHT, that David should sit atop the Club’s all-time RBI list. He in particular serves to remind us who we are. For it was David Wright, Jose Reyes and Scott Kazmir who represented the last harvest before the organization’s farm system turned into a dust bowl; before today’s most recent bounty that is.
After the Mets finished trying to lure fans out to the old Polo Grounds by bringing back blasts from the past, by the latter 1960’s, Joe McDonald finally set the Met organization straight regarding player development. His efforts provided the talent that won a World Series in 1969, and a second National League pennant four years later.
The second Mets’ reconstruction came in two waves because of ownership change. Between 1977 and 1979; that last years under then owner Lorinda DeRoulet; Joe McDonald drafted the likes of Lee Mazzilli, Wally Backman, Hubie Brooks, Mike Scott, Jesse Orosco, Mookie Wilson, Neil Allen, and another or two, before the Doubleday/Wilpon regime took over. The fore mentioned players were either retained, or parlayed into other players, like Keith Hernandez and Co. Starting in 1980, GM Frank Cashen completed the rebuilding process and delivered a championship with a preponderance of his, and Joe McDonald’s former prospects on the roster.
The next major reconstruction came in the mid-90’s under then General Manager; Joe McIlvaine. Mets Fans were united in the rebuilding effort. The era procured Edgardo Alfonzo, Todd Hundley, and Jeremy Burnitz. They were to revolve around Generation-K.
As much as we were all on board with the movement, the effort was a total fail. The remnants of that era were salvaged and retooled into a playoff team in time for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. But that team with Al Leiter and Mike Piazza as the lead players, had a wider range of players than the predominantly home grown ’69, ’73, ’86, and ’88 teams. Is it a stretch to suggest the reason they fell just short of a World Series title reflects that? The 1999-2000 team had no inner system depth?
Fast forward a bit, by the time Steve Phillips was through with this organization, so was our farm system. Sand from the dust bowl filled the gears of the machines and brought them to a grinding halt. Wright, Reyes, and Kazmir were the last prospects to step off the assembly line from what had been a well run factory turning out quality prospects over the course of forty years, dating back to the original 1966 seeds planted by Joe McDonald. Then Omar Minaya revived it. Don’t forget that. This is largely still his team. These are predominantly all his draft picks finally making the big club. But I digress.
The point is, here we are, undergoing the organizations fourth major reconstruction effort while in the midst of their 50th Anniversary Season. There is no issue with that. Instead, our present situation is a refreshing and long needed return to our roots. We have rarely delved into the realms of free agency with great success. Developing talent was always our thing we did well. And there in lies the reason why I believe we all feel a sense of comfort. The old values of METropoliS are undergoing a renaissance. If anything, David Wright is a fitting, if not symbolic, reminder to this organization they lost their way.
We all know and feel the role of being face of the franchise was by and large thrust upon David by both the Mets and the Media. He came to the Mets via a supplemental pick for Mike Hampton, and somehow wound up bearing the brunt of the Media onslaught over the last five years because he always remained accountable, and when pressed with cameras and microphones in his face, always stood his ground, which may not have always been the case with other players.
He emerges now as the franchise’s all-time RBI leader after some years that weighed heavy on him. David always represented himself and the organization with class. And perhaps he, more than any player currently on the club stands as the single biggest reminder to the Mets where their priorities should lie. So yes, it is WRIGHT that he should be the new club king. It’s what we wanted all along.