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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

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CelebR.A.te, CelebWright

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.

11 comments to CelebR.A.te, CelebWright

  • Dave

    Well, anyone not filled with indignant anger about RA’s snub is a better man than I, so I tip my hat to you, Greg (and to go for the nose-thumbing trifecta, LaRussa could have named Wright the starting DH, but no…). Guess tonight if my wife wants to watch an episode of Real Housewives of NJ or something, it’ll save me a trip upstairs to the other TV.

  • Mike D.

    In the words of Matt Cain, who told MLB Network that even he thought it would be Dickey: “I guess, for some reason, Tony picked me.”

  • Said with as much class as Wright, Greg.

    Tony LaRussa is a jackass.

  • March'62

    Having a hard time getting worked up over this. I don’t want this to be an ‘apex’ for Dickey. How about a championship and Cy Young? Maybe next year Terry Collins gets to name him as starter. And maybe Thole is batting .355 at the break and we don’t have to worry about Posey not being able to catch a 70 mile per hour pitch. Of course, something will have to be done about the SF ballot stuffing. How about only the original National League cities get to vote for the All Star game: New York, St. Louis, Chicago, Philly, Cincy, Hartford, Louisville and Boston. California has only been a baseball location for 55 years. They’re obviously not savvy enough to vote for the best player for their OWN TEAM’S LEAGUE IN THE FREAKING ALL-STAR GAME. Okay, maybe I’m just a little worked up.

  • Andee

    I figure at least one of three things must be true:

    1. TLR wants Posey out of the game as soon as possible so he can get Ruiz in there, since Ruiz is a much better hitter right now. But he can’t come right out and say, “Posey is massively overrated as a catcher, he’s not fit to carry Chooch’s wristbands, and I’m not getting rooked out of a huge bat a premium position, thank you.” So he comes up with the idea of Ruiz entering with Dickey as soon as he is allowed to do it (Posey is sixth in the order and has to bat once).

    2. TLR is one of those guys who thinks a first-time All-Star pitcher shouldn’t start the game, period, because it’s “disrespectful” to those who have had multiple trips. TLR might be “unorthodox” but I’m sure he believes in hierarchy as much as anyone else in MLB.

    3. TLR thinks Dickey is a fluke. All that “career excellence” flarglebargle covers up the fact that over the last three years, Dickey and Cain have had close to identical numbers, and this year Dickey has outdone him in pretty much every statistical measure (even throwing out the W-L record, which I’m not sure we should do in RA’s case given our craptastic bullpen and porous outfield defense, neither of which Cain really has to contend with). But knuckleballs aren’t real pitching! The hitters will catch up to him! Hey, they already have caught up to him! Did you see those games with the Yankees and Phillies? He sux now!

    (And yeah, I’d expect Dickey to lose more games in the second half than in the first, because nobody goes 24-2, like ever. But I don’t expect him to forget his craft entirely, and neither does anyone who’s actually paying attention.)

  • kjs

    Is it Friday night yet?

  • Andee

    Oh, and my favorite is the poll of the AL starting lineup about who they’d rather face, Cain or Dickey — after Cain had already been selected. Every single one of them preferred to hit against Cain. Ayup.

  • open the gates

    Much ado about nothing, folks. I’m just enjoying the fact that Dickey is an All-Star less than two years after being cut the day before Opening Day. A first-time All-Star at the age of 37. With all the rest of The R.A. Dickey Saga as the back story. He doesn’t need to start. I’ll trade the All-Star start for a Cy and a couple of Series wins in a heartbeat.

    Hey, a guy can dream, right?

  • Ken K. in NJ

    (Lifetime makes its terrible Movie of the Week about R.A.’s journey)

    I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. I’m wishing for a decent theatrical release, starring Edward Burns.

  • nestornajwa

    It would have been fun if David and R.A. had channeled Gary Templeton who famously said about his All-Star starting snub “If I ain’t startin’, I ain’t departin'”.