For Wright, Classic can be even more special
Hometown star deserving of starting nod for National League at third base
This All-Star Game should be one of the really special moments in David Wright's career. Here's hoping he has someone videotape as many of the memories as possible, because it's going to be a blur.
What Wright is likely to remember is the ovation he gets when his name is announced during pregame ceremonies at Citi Field on July 16. It'll probably be a thunderclap of recognition and celebration, followed by a long, sustained show of appreciation.
That's how the hometown guy ought to be treated. That's also what David Wright deserves because he's exactly what the Mets -- and Major League Baseball -- want their players to be. On the field. Off the field.
Just the other day, Wright approached a Mets official and asked that the campaign to get him into the National League starting lineup be toned down. He said he appreciated the effort, but with the Mets struggling on the field, he was uncomfortable with the individual attention.
He wants to be part of a winning team, and until that happens, he thinks the focus should be on the entire ballclub. Yeah, sometimes the guy seems too good to be true.
When he's done, he's going to be one of the players every future member of the Mets is compared to. He's not just a great player, although he certainly is that. More on that later. He's also a guy who gets it in terms of giving back to the community and using his name to make New York a better place.
So this All-Star Game is going to be a showcase for David Wright and an opportunity for the Mets to show off how good he is. And that's why they've been so focused on getting him into the NL's starting lineup.
It's the right thing for the Mets. As the ballclub improves -- and general manager Sandy Alderson's track record says it will soon be in contention -- Wright will still be the player around which the club is constructed. This All-Star Game is one of those special moments in the history of the franchise. Why not be allowed to put the home team's best player on center stage?
Now about that spot in the starting lineup. First, Wright deserves it. At the moment, he's trailing Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval by 126,403 votes, but there's still plenty of time for fans to get it right.
All Wright is doing is leading NL third basemen in a long list of categories, including batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, stolen bases, walks, hits and runs.
He's second to Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez in home runs and fourth in RBIs. If you're looking for a broader measuring stick, his 3.7 Wins Above Replacement number by Baseball-Reference.com is third in the NL, behind only outfielders Carlos Gomez (4.5) and Carlos Gonzalez (4.2). Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is also at 3.7.
As for Sandoval, he deserves some love, too. The All-Star Game isn't just for the players having the best half-season. It's also for those who've contributed the most to the game. Stars like Derek Jeter and Brandon Phillips should always get special consideration because of their stature inside baseball.
Sandoval is coming off a season in which he led the Giants to their second championship in three seasons. He batted .500 in the World Series and won the Most Valuable Player Award.
If Sandoval ends up starting at third for the NL, it will be a tribute not to just his individual accomplishments but to all the good work the Giants have done and to the 42,000 fans who pack AT&T Park each night.
But Wright has had a better season, and Sandoval is on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his left foot. Wright has more home runs and doubles. He's a better baserunner and a better defensive player.
Beyond that, the All-Star Game has always been for the fans, and with the game at Citi Field, it just feels right that Wright would have the honor of starting what probably will be the only home All-Star Game he has a chance to play in.
Sandoval's lead is far from insurmountable, but Mets fans need to turn out. Fans around the country need to turn out, too, both to honor the NL's best third baseman and to give the game the touch it deserves.
Wright will be a big deal at this All-Star Game regardless of whether he's in the starting lineup. But the starting lineup would make the whole thing a bit more special. So let's punch those ballots for him. Let's make a special couple of days even more special.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.