It’s tempting to overindulge in Metsopotamian indignation over the National League starting lineup’s two most gallingly glaring deficiencies, but instead I’ll defer to William DeVaughn’s judgment, circa 1974.
Just be thankful for what you’ve got.
David Wright, as previously discussed, should be starting at third in the All-Star Game. Instead he’s backing up a nickname who was catapulted past him via hyperaggressive promotional marketing…which is unfortunate, but a) David is an All-Star; b) David will no doubt play; and c) will ya look at the season David Wright is having for your New York Mets?
Mark Simon did so at ESPN New York, and what Mark found was David put together the kind of first half last seen in these National League parts by Duke Snider. No kidding: no New Yorker of the senior circuit persuasion — be he Dodger, Giant or Met — has matched the pre-All Star break baseline of .350 batting average, 1.000 OPS and 250 plate appearances since the Duke of Flatbush in 1954. Before him, David’s kind of performance was the stuff of Jackie Robinson in 1950 and 1951. Other than those two Hall of Famers and Pistol Pete Reiser in 1941, nobody else in the league in this town has been as productive as David Wright in 2012 from April to the All-Star Game.
Within the realm of Metsdom, Mark adds, David’s having just about the best first half ever. He’s right there with names like Olerud, Piazza, Hundley, Reyes…well, that part’s not surprising. We’ve been watching David since he went out with that fractured pinkie and marveled that he came Wright back to fracture National League pitching. He’s never really stopped.
Plus he’s incredibly reasonable about being jobbed out of his starting role. “It’s impossible for me to sit here and say that I’m mad or angry or upset to make an All-Star team,” David swears with his usual dollop of class. “It’s silly.”
As was Tony La Russa’s predictably wormlike decision to tab Matt Cain as National League starting pitcher over R.A. Dickey. Cain was a worthy candidate. But R.A. was the transcendent choice in every sense possible, 2012 pitching credentials included. La Russa went the other way anyway.
When Lifetime makes its terrible Movie of the Week about R.A.’s journey, they can include the scene in which the mulish manager character (think John Goodman as the Adams College coach in Revenge of the Nerds) tells the deserving hurler, “I’m going with Cain. He throws harder. His catcher can handle him. Besides, you’re a knuckleballer. You’re too odd.”
Granted, it probably didn’t go down this way in Kansas City (Dickey let it be known La Russa didn’t have the courtesy to inform him face-to-face that he wasn’t starting), but you can just feel The Genius’s thinking on this highly orthodox move. It’s another slap in the face to a striver who’s overcome plenty of them in rising to the top of his profession. It’s unlikely this one will deter R.A., either.
Beautifully, R.A. is being his own brand of reasonable regarding La Russa’s blatant misjudgment, which is to say that though he graciously tipped his cap to Cain, he wasn’t necessarily David Diplomat about it when questioned.
That wouldn’t have been authentic. And R.A.’s that, we may have noticed.
• “I’m not going to break down in tears over it. But at the same time, I’m a competitor. I want to pitch. I want to start. I had a good enough first half to be considered.”
• “I really felt like it would have been a neat thing for the Mets organization and the fan base. Having shared so much of my story with them, I feel like that would have been a neat culmination or apex of that story.”
• “I’m not the boss. I don’t necessarily have to agree with it, but I certainly have to respect it, and that’s the way it is.”
So R.A. Dickey doesn’t start the All-Star Game, but when you read Wayne Coffey’s story in the Daily News about the impact he made on one Mets fan’s life when that fan didn’t have long to live, you’ll be reminded that the man is an All-Star starter at life.
Let us remember one more thing: the Mets who have made the most difference in All-Star Games didn’t start them. Tug McGraw won in relief in 1972. Jon Matlack earned co-MVP honors as a reliever in 1975. Lee Mazzilli etched his name deep into our consciousness forever as a pinch-hitting slugger in 1979. Tom Seaver (1967), Jerry Koosman (1968) and Sid Fernandez (1987) each recorded saves. We won’t see Wright and Dickey up front. We’ll see them eventually. And we may see something great out of them.
As if we haven’t already.