Not every baseball team has, or needs, a captain. Currently only four of the thirty teams have captains: Derrek Lee of the Cubs, Paul Konerko of the White Sox, Jason Varitek of the Red Sox and Derek Jeter of the Yankees. The Mets haven’t historically needed to trump up the ego or perception of one of their players and proclaim him captain. In fact they’ve only had three in their history and two were co-captains. Keith Hernandez was named captain after the Championship season of 1986. Gary Carter soon joined him, and they were co-captains until 1989. John Franco, after the 2000 Pennant year, was named captain and served until 2004.
Is it time to name a new captain? Could the Mets benefit in 2010 from an on the field leader? There are arguments for and against, but I think it’s becoming more and more obvious that title or not, David Wright is a leader on this team. He’s hardly the only one: Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana both provide leadership as well, but the team might still benefit from an official captain.
Johan Santana is a cheery guy in the clubhouse, and he’s also a fierce competitor. He provides a nice mix of enjoying the game, yet still preparing and competing to the best of your ability. Francisco Rodriguez provides energy and passion at the end of the game, and is also a fiery guy. It’s generally assumed that a pitcher, despite John Franco, cannot be a captain because they do not take the field every day. I don’t really buy that argument. While there is a benefit to being a leader from the front of the lines every day, there are plenty of ways to lead from the dugout, between innings, and before and after games. Santana is on the mound 20% of the time and the pitcher is definitely front and center of the guys on the field batting for a win.
Still, it’s obvious to most observers that the guy most likely to be the Captain of the Mets is David Wright. He’s well-spoken, confident, and a star. He’s a fan favorite and one that will hopefully spend his entire career with the Mets. He’s never worn another uniform. He grew up a Mets fan. He’s a guy that’s willing to instruct, support and motivate his teammates and they respect him for it. David Wright can lead this team.
The 2010 Mets have a void in leadership with a lame duck manager. The players are now familiar with the plusses and minuses of the current management and it’s time for them to step up and provide for themselves. Whether this is David Wright walking out to the mound to talk to Pelfrey, or Johan Santana signaling to the infield what he’s going to throw so they can cheat and reposition themselves a little bit, 2010 is about moving forward, and it’s time to name a captain. The last two times the Mets named one it was after a pennant year and the team lost. Maybe it’s time to name a captain that will lead us to another championship rather than rewarding a player with a title afterwards. But one thing is certain whether it becomes official or not: David Wright is the captain of the 2010 New York Mets.
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