As it turned out, David Wright was honoring baseball's past when he learned about a great jolt to the Mets' future.
"If it's true, you're getting obviously the best pitcher in the game," the Mets' third baseman said yesterday at the BAT dinner in Manhattan, when reports first surfaced about the Mets' acquisition of Johan Santana.
It is true, of course, with only a contract extension and physical standing in the way, and Wright didn't hide his glee. The Santana trade lights up what had been a quiet winter for the Mets, in the wake of a horrible fall.
The Baseball Assistance Team helps people in baseball who have fallen on hard times, and BAT was honoring Wright for his community work. Wright got more excitement from the evening than he expected.
"When I think of an ace, I think of someone who you know is going to get you a win every five days. There's not many of those guys. Johan is one of those guys," Wright said. "You know that every fifth day, he's going to eat up innings. He's going to win.
"To have one of a handful of those guys I would consider an ace, it's going to be pretty special. Obviously, there's a lot of positive energy, if this is true, going into spring training."
Wright said he's gotten to know Santana from All-Star Games and through Santana's Twins teammate Michael Cuddyer, who, like Wright, is from Norfolk, Va. He expressed his belief that Santana will fit in with the Mets' clubhouse culture.
"Not only what he brings on the field, but for our younger pitchers to develop under a guy like Johan, a guy like Pedro, you can't ask for a better situation," Wright said. "... He seems like a great clubhouse guy. If it's true, we're gonna welcome him with open arms."