Face Of Virtue

It should only serve to draw attention to the unwavering loyalty of Mets fans, even in the face of Ponzi schemes, annoying owners, and malls being built on our parking lot, that David Wright was able to reach the “Face of MLB” finals two years in a two, and win one of them.

Over its course, the “Face of MLB” competition has faced some – by which I mean, “a lot of” – criticism, mostly for being annoying, time-consuming, and absolutely meaningless, much like Jim Duquette’s TV analysis. However, this is one point for which Mets fans should appreciate it: the contest is an awareness raiser. No rational person, after seeing David Wright in the finals two years in a row, could logically deny the disproportionate loyalty of Mets fans to their royally underachieving team. The competition allows the world to see that despite the W!lpons’ best efforts, we have not given up on the team, and we don’t plan on doing so any time soon.

And when we hear that, we think, “How could we not love this team, when our captain is a guy like David Wright?”

At this point – a point which comes after six consecutive losing seasons, and eight seasons since our last postseason appearance, if you’re keeping score at home – David Wright is, quite simply, the last constant left in the lives of Mets fans. He’s been here since 2004, he’s been, for the most part, offensively formidable since 2004, and whether you appreciate his contribution or not, he’s our captain, for whatever that’s worth.

No, David Wright is not the Face of MLB. He, a 32 year old third baseman on a perennial cellar-dweller, went up against an up-and-coming young player on a defending World Champion – and just barely lost. That speaks to two things: the completely irrational loyalty of Mets fans, who vote for their kind-of star even as the team begging them to vote makes barely a tangible improvement over one of their most important off-seasons in recent memory, and the transcendence of David Wright, who wins the vote of the country outside of San Francisco even as his statistics slip and his team continues to lose.

So why does almost everyone, save those bitter fans who don’t appreciate what he’s done, love David Wright so much? Well, for one, he is – and this is unusually rare among Mets – loyal. Even the franchise himself, Tom Seaver, demanded a trade when the adversity in New York became too much for him, but David Wright signed on for eight years, at what was probably a discounted rate and on nothing but blind faith in this ownership group, this team, and this city, because he is more than a baseball player. He is a New York Met.

Beyond this, David Wright can really play. Even right now, when whispers abound regarding the fact that maybe, just maybe, David’s time as a star could be ending, a resurgence is by no means out of the question. David Wright played 156 games in 2012. In 2013, he played 112, losing the remainder of the season to a flukey injury. In 2014, he played injured almost the entire year, missing time and losing productivity because of it. But now? A full offseason to rest, recover, and rebuild? Despite the fact that for some reason, many Mets fans have taken it upon themselves to assume the roles of naysayers in the valiant return of David Wright, a return to stardom for David Wright is by no means out of the question.

For some reason, even those who claim that Wright may return to full strength damp down their predictions: “For Wright, A .280 average with 10-15 home runs is a realistic and productive projection.” Why, I ask you? David Wright may be aging, but he’s 32, not 38. He’s at the tail end of his prime, not his career. Can David Wright still hit 20 home runs? Of course! That’s not to say he will, but he was on pace for 25 before his injuries in 2013, and despite the general gloominess surrounding his return, I see no reason to distrust him, our captain, when he says that he is fully healthy and feeling ready to return. And can he return to his days batting North of .300? Again, why not? We may be proven wrong, but until that time, again, I see no reason not to believe that his decline last year was anything beyond nagging pains and a bad shoulder. And again, with a full offseason of rest, healing, and strengthening under his belt, a return to form, while not altogether guaranteed, is most definitely not impossible.

And you know what else? Even disregarding Wright’s numbers, he still stands alone, or at least in a highly restricted area, as a player who genuinely cares about winning ball games for the fans. Simply put, most everything David Wright does makes someone smile, and if that’s not what Mets baseball is all about, then I don’t know what is.

So in summation, David Wright is not the Face of MLB. He probably never has been, unless you count his appearance on the cover of MLB ’07: The Show. Although he’s been an above-average offensive player for most of his career, he’s never been the best hitter in the league, although according to WAR, he was the second best hitter in the National League in 2007. Although he’s won a few gold gloves, he’s never been the best defensive third baseman in the game. But you know what? David Wright is our anchor, our star, and our captain. So even if he isn’t the Face of MLB, I hope I’m not alone in thinking that he’s done enough.

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