Friday, July 11, 2008

Don't Feel Too Bad...

Although many of us, and perhaps David Wright himself, feels that it's an injustice that he's not on the All-Star team, we shouldn't feel too bad that he won't be there.

Yes, after being an elected starter for two years in a row, and after putting up numbers in the first half of the season that are certainly worthy of a place on the All Star team, Wright is certainly as deserving as the other 3rd baseman on the NL All Star team (Larry, for one, and Aramis Ramirez, the other). In fact, Wright has, for the course of the season, outperformed Ramirez, but it's Ramirez getting the call instead of Wright.

As if being outvoted by Larry and snubbed for Ramirez wasn't enough of an indignity, Wright was then subsequently beaten in the Final Vote selection by Corey Hart, a mystery in and of itself. The Mets and many of their fans, and media outlets pushed hard for Wright's selection, to no avail. Admittedly, Wright was disappointed. In an era where many big-name, big-ticket players see this exhibition as a waste of time and often don't show up, Wright's desire to be there is refreshing. I think many Mets fans are disappointed as well, particularly with the game in New York (although, clearly, the game itself is just going to be a World-Class Yankee Lather job), and particularly with the lone Mets All-Star being Billy Wagner, whose performance may be All-Star worthy, but at the expense of all of our stomachs.

If there were a Met who by all rights deserve to represent the team at the All-Star game, it would be David Wright, wouldn't it? Jose Reyes can make a strong case for himself as well, but it really would be Wright. He's been the Matinee-Idol, Face of the Franchise, Captain America or whatever you want to call him for the past 4 seasons. His performance is generally graded at a higher curve than anyone else on the team. He got his first "Reputation" award last season, earning himself a Gold Glove that had many people scratching their heads. But since most of these things are, inherently, popularity contests, it should have been that Wright, given his exploits on the field and his popularity off the field, should have been elected.

The problem arises when you have too many dopes, like the slovenly, 13-year old kid in Anaheim who goes to games wearing a hat 2 sizes too big and wears a Vladimir Guerrero jersey covered in chocolate ice cream stains who sees that the Mets, as a team, faltered last season, and thinks to himself, "Hey, the Mets suck. Their team sucks! I'm voting for Aramis Ramirez since the Cubs are in first!" and proceeds to mass-punch 75 ballots with Aramis Ramirez. It's nice that the All-Star Game is a democratic election process, but, similar to the Electoral process in this country, if you have too many idiots making the decisions, you'll eventually end up with something pretty bad for everyone.

And what of Wright? It certainly wasn't his fault that the Mets played poorly last season. True, he started slow, but the end result was Wright's finest season to date, boasting a .325 BA, 30 HRs, 107 RBIs, 34 steals and even 113 runs. Numbers not just All-Star worthy, but almost MVP worthy, had his team turned out a little better. This year, Wright got off to a similar slow start, and he's scuffled quite a bit at times, with his protection in the lineup lacking. His BA is a little low right now at .288, but with 17 HRs and 70 RBIs, the power numbers are right there, and certainly better than Ramirez's numbers (Larry's too, although Larry is currently hitting .375).

So why, then, should we not feel so bad for Wright's being severly snubbed?

Here's why:

More often than not, Wright has looked as if he could use a day off here and there. Until Jerry Manuel purposely sat him one night against Seattle, Wright had played every inning of every game the Mets had played, to that point nearly a half season, and he looked every bit of it. The season is a haul, and Wright could use the 3-day break. True, even if he gets in as a last minute replacement, the game is in New York, and Wright could still have the luxury of sleeping in his sprawling Flatiron pad, Wright would still have to truck his ass out to the Bronx on Monday night for the ceremonial crotch-grabbing, and again on Tuesday for more crotch-grabbing and then playing 3-4 innings in the game itself, being out late, being fawned over and having to put his best face on all the time. Wednesday would be no better, since he'd have to then fly himself out to Cincinnati for Thursday's game.

If Wright has the 3 days off, he'll go home to Virginia, horse around with his brothers, have a few nights of mom's cooking and a chance to relax and not deal with the pressures of being David Wright and having to impress everybody every time he steps into the spotlight. He can sit home, lie in bed, pick his nose and enjoy a few days off. Not having to deal with having to impress anyone should be good for him as the season wears on. Wright has, in the past, been a strong second half performer. Maybe, with this little break now, Wright will be better served in the long run.

So, sure, we can feel bad that Wright's going to miss out on this year's All-Star game. But let's think about it this way: In 2006, Wright went, did the Home Run Derby and sufficiently cocked up his swing and had a lousy second half. This year, the extra rest now might mean a few more big hits later in the season.

You know, when the Mets might really need them.

(Note: At around 3:45, I was informed that Wright was indeed selected to the All-Star team as a replacement, not for Chipper Jones, but for Alfonso Soriano. So much for him getting some rest. But good for him nonetheless. He deserves it.)

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