Wright Needs To Lead

Newsday’s Johnette Howard says that it was “encouraging” to hear Billy Wagner speak out on Wednesday but, David Wright needs to step up and be the clubhouse leader.

When you look around the Mets’ clubhouse today and ask yourself who the leader of this tepid, puzzling team is, no one instantly leaps to mind. The Mets don’t have someone who can transcend all cliques and be the straight-talking conscience of the club, a guy who demands accountability and imposes a personality or ethic on the team — hurt feelings be damned.

It’s a lot to ask of anybody. It needn’t come from just one player. And Wagner deserves credit for at least trying. But the truth is, in the pecking order of professional sports, a closer’s influence in a baseball clubhouse is only slightly greater than a placekicker’s clout in football. Teammates respect those guys when they do their jobs under pressure. But a closer or a kicker is a specialist. And that erodes their sway among the guys who are on the field every day for every play.

Howard makes a very good point. There needs to be someone who is out there everyday to step up and lead with his play on the field and with his repore in the clubhouse. Wagner can be A leader on the Mets but someone else needs to be THE leader.

Wright has the game to be a bigger clubhouse conscience than he is. And now there’s also a crying need for him to do it. He has the personality and scruples to take on the role. What he should reconsider is why he continues to defer to Beltran or Carlos Delgado or Wagner.

Wright is too good to give way to Beltran and Delgado anymore. And what’s at stake for the Mets is too important. They’ve been chasing the ghost of 2006 for two seasons now. They’d better hope their moment hasn’t passed. Talent guarantees nothing.

A couple of weeks ago, Newsday‘s David Lennon did a fascinating interview with Wright in which Wright spoke about refusing to fraternize with opponents, even close friends, once he’s in uniform and on the field because he’s there to compete. Period.

It’s the sort of give-no-quarter attitude the Mets need. It’s an old-school conviction that distinguishes Wright from most of his contemporaries.

The bothersome thing was, who knew? Did you know Wright felt that strongly? Doesn’t that conviction heighten your respect for him? So why keep it under wraps?

In the perception of a growing number of fans, the Mets mostly don’t seem to care about winning and don’t seem to exert any pride of ownership of their team’s fortunes.

Whether it be for cultural, language, or personality reasons, many of the Mets regulars aren’t the type of people that are willing or able to stand up to the media and be a spokesman.

But there is nothing holding back David Wright. He is the Golden Boy, he is the future captain, he is the face of the franchise, and he grew up as a Mets fan. Who better than Wright?

Howard concludes by asking:

So if it’s not Wright who leads the Mets, then who is it?

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