As a Mets fan, there’s not a whole lot to look fondly back on from the last 10 years.
Sure it was the first decade of Citi Field. Hell, Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in the history of the franchise in 2012. From a team perspective, however, it was a disappointing decade. The team only made the playoffs twice and hasn’t returned since they hosted the Giants in the 2016 Wild Card game — another bad memory.
But through it all, or most of it anyway, there was always a reason to have hope, a reason to believe. His name is David Wright.
Wright quickly became the face of the franchise — and my favorite player — shortly after he arrived in Queens in 2004. With a quick bat, an impressive glove and a contagious smile, Wright proved to be among the best in the league. A leader on and off the field, his captainship in 2013 was more of a formality than anything.
So what does this have to do with the decade and my favorite moment? Well, you probably guessed already, it’s about David.
Wright suffered his first real injury, a stress fracture in his lower back, after making a diving tag in 2011. He initially thought it was his hamstring, but an MRI proved otherwise. It was his first trip to the disabled list in his career. It wasn’t an issue over the next two seasons, but he re-injured his hamstring on a slide into second base in 2015.
While on the DL again, it was revealed to be a more major injury: He was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, or the narrowing of the spinal cord. The same injury that ended Michael Irvin’s football career.
No one truly knew how long The Captain would be sidelined for, or if he would return at all. He rehabbed daily and worked hard for a late season return, an August 25 game against the Phillies. Slotted in the clean-up spot, he clobbered a homerun on his first swing back, and all seemed right in the world again.
But that’s not the moment.
Fast forward to October. The Mets ran the table, won the NL East and beat the Dodgers and Cubs as they won the pennant for the first time since 2000. After 11 years in the majors, Wright was finally going to get a shot to play in the World Series.
Down two games to none, the Fall Classic came to Citi Field for the first time in its short life — the first time Mets fans had a home World Series game in 15 years.
The stadium was loud and filled to the brim in orange and blue. Mike Piazza threw out the first pitch, and the Mets were wearing their usual home pinstripes. A pitching matchup between Noah Sydergaard and Yordano Ventura, Thor was the first to make a mistake when Ben Zobrist scored in the top of the first.
In the bottom half of the inning, with Curtis Granderson already on base and nobody out, Wright dug in. With his tongue out, a classic look, Wright loaded up and powered through an 0-1, 96 mph fastball that sailed deep into the left field stands.
It was like a seismic wave hit Flushing, Queens for the 18 seconds it took Wright to round the bases.
And that, that is my favorite moment of the decade.
The Mets would not win the series, losing in five games (I still don’t think the series actually happened), but it seemed worth it for that moment.
As the heart and soul of the team, the Mets did not seem right without, well, Wright. He spent the last few years of his career continuing to battle the injury, missing most of 2016, the entire 2017 season and all but two games in 2018. He had his final goodbye in late September against the Marlins (the same team to close out She Stadium in 2008 — yet another bad memory). He played a handful of innings with a pair of at-bats before walking off to a standing ovation.
Wright will go down as my favorite Met of all time, right alongside Piazza. He was my childhood hero and an idol during my short-lived baseball career.
I’m forever thankful to have watched him play and thrive in the blue and orange and will never forget that homerun.
Hopefully the 2020s are a lot more kind to my Mets.