Last year I wrote that Wright was, and should be, the captain of the New York Mets. I still believe this, and maybe now more than ever. In a way the Mets have put all their cards on the table here; they’ve hired some of the brightest people to reboot most of the management team. Sandy Alderson has talked about having limited flexibility this offseason, but if the current crop of talent can’t show us some success, he’ll have no qualms about using the flexibility of 2012 to find players who can. It’s imperative that the players work together to the best of their abilities.
Being a leader is more than being the best player on the team, or the “face of the franchise.” None of us will ever truly know how Wright acts when it’s just players with no media or fans around. What we do know is that he’s always willing to own up to mistakes, always willing to answer a hard question. He’s fiercely competitive, and doesn’t accept anything less than total effort. He openly cheers and roots for his teammates, and is always looking for ways to get better. He’ll wait on the field to reward a good fielding play by an outfielder, or he’ll go to the mound if he feels the pitcher needs a moment. If he gets picked off, he doesn’t sulk but opens a dialogue about what prompted him to take the big lead, and what he’s going to do next time.
Naming Wright captain would have other benefits as well. If some are worried that Terry Collins may be too fiery, installing the calmer Wright as an intermediary would help buffer some of that fire. Wright would have the authority to direct his players. If he feels they should come early to take extra batting practice, guys are going to show up for him. He’s already shown his ability at team-bonding; he orchestrated team haircuts, and the attempted no-shave until .500 quest of 2009. This is mostly silliness and might not mean anything at all, but Wright’s clearly at the core of this team.
Even if it doesn’t mean anything, Wright as captain would also be beneficial from a marketing stand point. The vast majority of Mets fans love David Wright, and naming him officially captain would only heighten the lore. You could sell more gear with a big ‘C’ on it. Newspaper writers would have a field day with dueling images of Wright and Jeter during Subway Series weeks. Clearly his team likes and supports him, so I see no downside to this title. You don’t name a leader AFTER you win a war, you name him to lead you to victory. The Mets would benefit from a unified core with a strong leader as they march into the fierce battle that is the 2011 season.
Read/listen to On The Black’s take on the subject.