Mets third baseman David Wright has always felt a need, sometimes to a fault, to be a team leader. Wright gamely accepted that role again last Saturday, as he was the marquee instructor at a Topps Baseball Camp for youngsters. Not surprisingly, the media asked him about the Phillies’ World Series win.
I asked him if he thought that it was positive for the Mets, because in sports it’s easier to get to the top than to stay there, unless you have a dynasty team, a la the Yankees of the late ’90s. “There is something to be said for that logic, I guess, but I look at it another way,” he said. “We played the Phillies 18 times last year and did pretty well against them. The fact that they are in our division and won the World Series should make that appear to be an attainable goal for us.”
The Phillies scored what proved to be the winning run of deciding Game 5 with perfectly executed “small ball.” With Eric Bruntlett on second base with nobody out, Shane Victorino hit a ground ball out to the right side of the infield that moved Bruntlett to third base. Pedro Feliz then followed with a ground ball through a drawn-in infield for the game-winning hit.
What sounds fairly simple was an excruciating rarity for the Mets in 2008. “We weren’t very good with our situational hitting, while the Phillies did find a way to drive in runs. We have to improve in this area,” Wright admitted.
Wright used the media session to promote the annual David Wright Foundation fundraiser, to be held next Wednesday night at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. The foundation funds a variety of children’s non-profits in New York and his hometown of Norfolk, Va. For more information, log onto www.davidwrightfoundation.com.
As per tradition, an American failed to win the New York City Marathon for the 26th straight year. There may be hope on the horizon though, as Queens native Kara Goucher, now a Minnesotan, came in third in the women’s race. Also making Queens proud was Astoria resident Phillip Sneller, who was the 45th man to cross the finish line.
Last week the Jets held a reunion of their 1969 team that won Super Bowl III in honor of the upcoming 40th anniversary of one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Joe Namath became a legend because he guaranteed a victory two days before the game.
I asked Namath if he ever thought that a Faustian bargain was made that day, since the Jets have never made it back to a Super Bowl.
Joe Willie, who in his acting days played Joe Hardy in “Damn Yankees,” clearly knew about the “making a deal with the devil” theme, but refused to answer my query.
“I better let Don answer that one!” he said with a laugh, referring to Hall of Fame receiver Don Maynard. Maynard, who had no clue about what Namath and I were talking about, launched into a rant about the number of NFL head coaches who never played in the pros. That, of course, would include Jets head coach Eric Mangini.