I have two questions regarding the Gold Glove awards:
1) How is it that Keith Hernandez won so many of them (11) yet refers to them on broadcasts as “Golden Gloves”? They're Gold Gloves, not Golden Gloves. Golden Gloves is boxing. But Keith is Keith.
I guess I just answered that question.
2) How did David Wright win a Gold Glove as the best defensive third baseman in the National League in 2007?
Damned if I know.
I'm all for Mets winning awards, starting with the Commissioner's Trophy and working down from there. Short of the big prize, I'll take all the middling trinkets available. Better in Met hands than other hands. Putting a Gold Glove in David Wright's hands is a far safer bet than giving Marv Throneberry a piece of birthday cake (“we wuz gonna give you one,” Casey Stengel is alleged to have told his buttercream-fingered first baseman, “but we wuz afraid you'd drop it”), but it's not the first thing you'd think to do.
Carlos Beltran won a Gold Glove, too. Of course he did. He's a terrific centerfielder. His instincts are nearly flawless, his execution remarkable, his grace amazing, his catches often spectacular. I could watch Carlos Beltran track fly balls all day.
David Wright brings to mind none of those qualities at third base. He tries hard and that occasionally translates to the Web Gem reel. His barehanded grab at Petco Park in 2005 was an instant classic. He made the reflex stab of the year in 2006 when he turned a potential ninth-inning game-ruiner in Philadelphia into a 5-4-3 double play. He made some big-time dives this past season as well and no, he didn't throw the ball away every time he got his hands on it. He's not bad. He's no butcher. He's pretty good, actually.
But a Gold Glove? For 2007? When bracing and cringing were automatic when it came to watching him fire to first? When his throws sailed? When too many balls to his left found holes when David didn't or couldn't react? When he made some of the plays but not nearly all of them?
Are they sure these weren't the Silver Sluggers in the wrong envelope?
Scott Rolen was injured much of the year and Robin Ventura — my and six times Rawlings' ideal of a Gold Glove third baseman — is retired, so maybe David was as good as it got in the N.L. I've looked at the fielding stats for hot cornermen but I never know what to make of them. Fielding percentage, which David didn't come close to leading, can be misleading. Should he be penalized for 21 errors, only two fewer than lazy lunkhead Miguel Cabrera, or rewarded for encountering 452 chances, second only to his highly regarded buddy Ryan Zimmerman? I've looked into zone ratings and range factors but they, too, are inconclusive.
Am I, as usual, being way too hard on a player I watch every day? Maybe, but I watched Ventura just as closely in '99 and never doubted he should win his Glove. He was simply awesome at every facet of his position. I occasionally read and hear references to what a wonderful defensive third baseman David Wright is. I don't see it. I just don't. And believe me, I do pay attention.
If it's just a popularity contest, well, fine. David deserves to be popular. He's the one Met who's been making the rounds in the wake of total team disaster. He carried himself with grace on The Daily Show and The Big Idea when the question of The Worst Collapse Ever comes up. He looks like he wants to kill himself (and probably several teammates), but he answers the Jon Stewarts and Donny Deutsches like a pro with a heart. While most of his teammates have scurried back to wherever collapsed Mets go once they've blown their lead, David's promoting his foundation so he can help others. Gosh, he remembered to thank Sandy Alomar, Sr. for hitting him so many ground balls and thus improving his defense.
I feel like such a Grinch with this kid. I should be waving banners for him but all I can do is think of the Gold Gove Mets of the past and how every single one of them back to Agee and Harrelson and Flynn and Mex and Darling through the Ordoñez/Ventura epoch of excellence right up to Carlos B. really and truly rated this honor. And that David Wright's a fine young man with an explosive bat and a winning smile.