The last time David Wright tasted champagne with the Mets, he thought it was something he would grow accustomed to, like annual All-Star Games and feeling healthy. As a young star on a powerhouse team in New York, he thought he could duplicate what Derek Jeter had done with the Yankees.
It couldn’t be that hard, could it?
However, the years slowly passed, and at times frustratingly so. As the injuries and disappointments mounted as the teammates slowly departed – from Carlos Beltran, to Tom Glavine, to Pedro Martinez to Jose Reyes – Wright came to appreciate what he once had and at times thought he’d come to expect.
“I a??m not taking this one for granted,” Wright said in the Mets’ champagne-soaked clubhouse in Cincinnati, moments after the Mets clinched the sixth division title in franchise history with a 10-2 rout of the Reds. “I can’t even describe this. I can’t be more excited to be able to do it with this group of guys. I canâ??t be more proud.”
The Mets were going to the World Series in 2006, but Yadier Molina derailed them in the ninth inning of Game 7. The following year, the Mets coughed up a seven-game lead with 17 games remaining to lose on the season’s final day. They lost in the final weekend in 2008, the final year of Shea Stadium.
The Mets gambled on Wright over Reyes, and unbelievably, many fans who cheered Wright questioned why he would bother to stay when GM Sandy Alderson offered him an eight-year, $138-million package that was as much for his future production as it was for his past numbers and what he represented to the franchise.
Stung from the Madoff scandal, signing Wright was a goodwill gesture to Mets fans, who were staying away from the Wilpons’ jewel of a ballpark. Alderson promised Wright that with the Mets’ promising young pitching – including Matt Harvey, who surprisingly worked in the seventh inning today – and with patience, the franchise could be relevant and viable again.
“I’m especially happy for David,” Alderson said. “He made a commitment to us on faith.”
And, that faith is being rewarded.
“This is exactly what I dreamed of when I sat down with Sandy and Jeff Wilpon,” Wright said. “I wanted to celebrate with this organization. I bleed orange and blue.”
However, there were land mines along the way. Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2014 season, and back problems sidelined Wright for over four months this summer. Wright was asked if he ever thought this team couldn’t win, even as it struggled at mid-season.
“Never,” Wright emphatically said. “I looked at the way this team is built. This team is built to win not just now, but for the future.”
And, for Wright and the Mets, the future is now.