End of an era
When I first heard, via Twitter, that the New York Mets were going to activate third baseman David Wright for the final series of the season, my first thought was, “finally!”
Wright has been a staple in the Mets’ roster for the last 14 years. He was named captain of the team in 2013, but in reality, he had been serving in that role since he first stepped on the field.
Wright is a large part of why I became a Mets fan.
Since joining the team in 2004, Wright had 14 or more home runs every season but one from 2004 through 2013. He hit over .300 seven times in that same span.
More important than his stats, however, was the way he played the game and the way he carried himself off the field. Wright was the guy who was willing to talk to the media when the team struggled. He was also the guy who picked up new players from the airport.
Interestingly, one of the first years I started to take notice of Wright and the Mets was 2006. The Mets were a pretty good team. Along with the likes of Wright leading the way offensively was Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes. On the mound, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez and John Maine were three members of the starting rotation. Billy Wagner was the closer.
The following season, Orlando Hernandez and Mike Pelfrey joined the mix on the mound and Carlos Delgado was a key piece of the offense alongside Wright.
Just one year later, the Mets played their final season at Shea Stadium. During the course of that year, they landed Johan Santana in a trade, who would go to throw the first no hitter in franchise history,
After having been one game in the 2006 season, I was hooked on the Mets.
That spring, my parents and I had a chance to go to the New York City because my father and I had a conference to attend. We stayed in Queens and we figured out that we had an extra couple of days between our conference and the couple of Broadway shows we planned on seeing. We decided to go catch a game, and it turned out to be a game between the Mets and Washington Nationals.
That game was a blast, and I found myself following the career of Wright from there, along with the additions of Santana and Pelfrey to their pitching staff.
In 2008, I took my two kids to a game at Shea during the final season. From where we were sitting, we had a great view of the Citi Field as it was being built.
The Mets moved into Citi Field the following season, which proved to be ridiculously cavernous in that first year. Wright had one of his worst seasons that year, hitting .307, but with only 10 home runs.
The next year, the Mets changed the dimensions of Citi Field, and Wright returned to form, hitting 29 home runs and 103 RBIs.
Wright had three more solid seasons before his first set of back problems crept in, causing him to play just 77 games from 2015-18. The slow progress as he tried to work his way back was heartbreaking.
He did not deserve an ending like this.
On Saturday, he made his final start in a Mets uniform, at Citi Field. He went 0-for-2 in the game, but that does not matter. He was where he belonged.
Wright was not my only Mets hero who put on his uniform for the final time this weekend in front of adoring fans as Jose Reyes also took his final at bat.
Reyes joined the big leagues in 2003, one year before Wright. He made up the other half of the left side of the infield at shortstop. While he never had the power of Wright, he had speed to burn. He stole 11 or more bases every season, with eight seasons going over 30.
Reyes left the Mets for a very lucrative contract with the Miami Marlins in 2012. He only played one year of that contract in Miami before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason. He spent parts of three seasons with the Blue Jays before being traded to Colorado.
In 2016, Reyes returned to the Mets, a shell of his former self. He was added to the roster at a time when injuries were costing the Mets all over the field.
Reyes stole nine bases in 60 games that season while hitting .274. Last year, he hit .246 and stole 24 bases in 145 games.
Sunday, he took his final at bat at Citi Field.
With neither Wright nor Reyes in the lineup next season, no one will be left with the Mets from the team I first started watching. It truly is the end of an era for me.
I will continue to enjoy the likes of Michael Conforto in the outfield and the pitching rotation that features Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard and Zach Wheeler. I know their careers will not last forever.