the sports section

Seeking the Mets’ A-Rod


David Wright watched last night as Cardinal Aaron Miles slid safely into third.Photo: AP

If you’ve lost track of where we are in the playoffs, this is the part where the Mets lose — as they did last night in St. Louis, 4-2 — because they don’t have any pitchers. So let’s fast-forward directly to the scapegoating. Word on the street suggests that we’re going to need an A-Rod soon — by which we mean, of course, not another MVP third-baseman but a mildly underachieving great player on whom we can beat out all of our repressed collective aggression. And, fortunately for Schadenfreude connoisseurs, a possible successor has already stepped up: Mets third-baseman David Wright.

Wright’s résumé for the position is impeccable. Like A-Rod, he’s a classic golden-boy wunderkind phenom. In his two full seasons with the Mets, he’s been among the league leaders in every important offensive category as well as a reliably dazzling fielder (who pulled off one of the great catches in the history of televised baseball). He’s polite, modest, hard-working, and charitable. He homered his first time up in the All-Star game. He recently signed a large-ish contract ($55 million over six years).

The best bad news, however, is that, despite his all-world talent, Wright has completely tanked in the NLCS. After a potentially heroic (but ultimately meaningless) late-inning double last night, he’s hitting .118 (2-17). He has only one RBI. He’s popping up pitches that even Playoff A-Rod would hit hard. Misanthropes rejoice!

Before the angry mob lights its torches, however, we should acknowledge a few weak points in the theory. Unfortunately, Wright is only 24, and this is his first trip to the playoffs, which seems like a plausible excuse. Also, he’s grown up with the Mets organization — he wasn’t brought in as an expensive ringer in his prime — so he’s built up a huge reserve of goodwill with fans. And he hasn’t shown any inclinations to go slightly crazy about all of this. It’s always possible that, with another season or two under his belt, he’ll turn out to be just another run-of-the-mill MVP who steps up for big games. Which would, of course, be great for the Mets but disastrous for our collective mental health.

(Next time on Knee-jerk Analysis, we’ll consider whether Omar Minaya should allow Willie Randolph to finish managing the series or just fire him now.)

— Sam Anderson

Seeking the Mets’ A-Rod