With the original Mr. November in retirement, publishing articles rather than starring in them, we're a one-captain town again for this World Series, the first for David Wright. Lucky him, and honestly, good for us.
In this space, there's usually no room for fandom. Just the black-and-white on the page, without a blue-and-orange tint. But for Mets lifer Wright, the Virginia transplant turned Flushing favorite son, it's impossible not to have a rooting interest.
And we're not just talking about us. Other than the Royal-blue half of Missouri, which in actuality probably is a much smaller colony of Cardinals Nation, we can't imagine a reason why Wright wouldn't be the hero of the fence-sitters for this particular Fall Classic.
It's been more than 11 years since Wright made his major-league debut on July 21, 2004, joining Jose Reyes as the Mets' dynamic duo, the charismatic, homegrown pair who were supposed to be the smiling twin faces of the franchise. But Reyes became a casualty of the Bernie Madoff fallout, with the Mets not even offering him a contract to stay when he hit free agency after the 2011 season.
Left virtually alone to sort through the rubble, Wright turned into a sympathetic figure, victimized by a crime he had nothing to do with. But he never cried about it, or even sniped back when principal owner Fred Wilpon, whom he had considered practically a father figure, labeled him "not a superstar" in the infamous New Yorker magazine story about the Mets.
Wright clearly was hurt, by everything, yet plowed through so many years of Mets nonsense, acting as the clubhouse voice regardless of how ridiculous or depressing that day's or week's or month's events were. Above all, he was a Met, and he would deal with whatever that entailed, minus a personal agenda and in adult fashion.
That also meant playing months with a stress fracture in his back, and fighting to return after a concussion, and dealing with the numerous other bruises and sprains Wright never bothered to tell us about. We found out only when they required hospital visits, or when he emerged from the trainer's room in a mummified state.
But 99.9 percent of the time, when we ask a question, no matter how delicate, Wright answers it. Thoughtfully, honestly, and on many occasions, accompanied by a good-natured wisecrack. There is playing in New York, and succeeding in New York. And then there is getting New York, and rolling with it, and not acting bigger than everyone else breathing the same air.
Wright has earned more than $105 million from the Mets and is due another $87 million through 2020. But if you didn't just read that, you'd probably never guess it.
To those who have met Wright or talk to him around Citi Field or cover him on a daily basis, it's kind of like your neighbor playing third base for the National League champions. The one who drives the beat-up Honda Accord whom you see playing touch football with the neighborhood kids.
For whatever adversity the Mets encountered this season, it's been 10 times that for Wright in the course of his career. Baseball isn't fair, and it's tough to think somebody is destined to win, but still.
"I'd like to think of myself as a glass-half-full type of person, an eternal optimist," Wright said the other day. "But I remember sitting there in that Cubs series, you beat Lester, you beat Arrieta, win Game 3 and score those runs early in Game 4. And you're thinking, this can't be going like this. You're kind of waiting for the speed bumps, which we've experienced plenty of the last few years."
That's what a career with the Mets will do to a player, even a seven-time All-Star such as Wright, who could have left after a 74-win season in 2012. But he listened to Sandy Alderson sell him on a brighter future, got his big payday and stayed -- without any drama on his end.
"Part of it for me was the loyalty," Wright said. "I had faith."
That's easier during the good times, with a World Series ring for each finger, and when you're in the playoffs every October. But after watching Wright all these years, we appreciate it more -- for his sake. Speaking objectively, he deserves it.