The Mets won’t have David Wright to kick around anymore. Wright, citing continuing problems with both his back and his oblique, has decided to leave the Mets, retire from baseball and head into politics.
“It’s a tremendously sad day for me,” Wright said in his farewell press conference. “But the reality is that I can no longer play at a level to bring the Mets championships. And let’s face it, this year’s team needs me to be better than I ever was. Last year’s .254 AVG won’t even get us out of the cellar.”
Manager Terry Collins put on a brave face despite the bad news. “Wright has been a consummate professional during his career with the Mets and we thank him for his years of service. He’s a role model for all of the young players in the organization. Sure, he quit on the team right before the start of the season but he showed up early to Spring Training and that’s the type of player I want on my team, regardless if they’re retired or not.”
Reaction in the clubhouse was mixed.
“I’m going to miss David but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled to see him go,” Daniel Murphy said. “Now I don’t have to risk life and limb to get into the starting lineup.” Collins announced that Murphy would take over for Wright at third base, with Jordany Valdespin the team’s new second baseman.
Lucas Duda seemed especially hard hit by the news. “Wright was the best teammate you could ever have,” a teary-eyed Duda said. “When I came up in 2010, he carried my bags. When I asked him why, he said ever since Cliff Floyd make him carry bags as a rookie, he found out he really liked hauling luggage. He even came on the road trips last year when he had a broken back and carried my bags. I’ll miss that guy.”
Fred Wilpon immediately huddled with Sandy Alderson to discuss the ramifications of Wright’s departure.
“I don’t have to pay him, right?” Wilpon was overheard saying again and again. “He retired so I don’t have to pay him!” As Wilpon got more and more excited, Alderson could be heard imploring his boss to keep his voice down, at least while Wright and members of the media were in the room. After successfully ushering Wilpon out of the room, Alderson informed the media he would let his thoughts on the move be known later and that they should follow his Twitter feed for updates.
As shocking as the retirement news, the real bombshell came when Wright announced his desire to go into politics. While many players offered great sound bites and some even offered political thoughts, Wright never said anything political, or interesting, in his eight years with the club.
Republican leaders were excited about a high-profile professional athlete turning to politics, thinking he could help turn New York, traditionally a blue-state, red.
“He could be our Bill Bradley,” RNC Chair Renice Priebus said, invoking the memory of the former Democratic Senator from New Jersey. When it was pointed out to Priebus that Bradley won two championships with the Knicks after being a Rhodes Scholar from Princeton and that Wright never won a championship and never went to college, the Chairman seemed defensive.
“You didn’t expect me to compare him to Jim Bunning, did you? We didn’t mind Bunning being crazy but he committed an unforgivable sin in the eyes of Republicans – he didn’t have enough money to finance a campaign in 2010. How can you be a Republican senator and not have money? That makes no sense to us.
“Wright’s made over $39 million playing baseball and who knows how much more from endorsements. As a fabulously wealthy white male, he has an obligation to help other fabulously wealthy white males. We welcome him to politics with open arms.”
For his part, Wright declined to identify which political party he associated with or what jobs he hoped to land in the future.
“Right now I just want to relax,” Wright said. “Maybe I’ll go out to the park and catch a few games.”
If you liked this piece, please check out our story from 4/1/2010