[Update, 10/26/2015: The Mets are going to the World Series! Citi Field will host Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5, which are scheduled for October 30–November 1. Tickets are sold out, but you can try your luck at stubhub.com.]
With two Gold Glove awards, a slew of Mets franchise records and the rarefied title of team captain already in hand, a start in the July 16 All-Star Game would just be icing on the cake for David Wright. The third baseman, who will captain the National League team at the July 15 Home Run Derby, has taken a front-and-center role for the Mets in recent years, a constant presence in the face of sweeping changes to the roster. Considering the eight-year, $138 million contract he signed in the offseason, he'll remain the face of the team for a long time to come.
Still, the Virginia native maintains a humble outlook, enjoying his time in the spotlight with the bright young team he’s helping to shape and rebuild.
We sat down with the six-time All-Star (almost certainly seven by the time you're reading this) to discuss his leadership role, the upcoming Midsummer Classic and where he “crushes” his favorite slice of pizza.
July 4 is the last day to vote for David Wright as the National League's starting third baseman in the All-Star Game. Cast your ballot at mets.com.
Congrats on becoming captain. How does it feel? David Wright: It feels good. At least for me, you want to be a good baseball player but just as important you want to be known for your leadership. You want to be known for being a good guy to have in the clubhouse, especially with our young team. It’s an incredible honor. When I look back on my career I am going to be proud of what I do on the field, but I’m going to be equally proud of what I do as captain. There’s only been four [Editor's note: the others have been Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and John Franco] and to be that fourth, it’s a huge deal to me.
Do you feel you’ve taken on a mentor role with younger players? DW: That’s part of the responsibility, no question. I think that since I’ve been here for as long as I have, there’s a lot of advice and guidance I can give to the younger guys, and we have a very young team.
Were you mentored yourself earlier in your career? DW: Of course. I got called up, and it was kind of the opposite of how it is now. We had a very veteran team—the third captain, Johnny Franco, was here when I played. Al Leiter, Joe McEwing, Cliff Floyd, Mike Piazza…the list goes on and on. I got a chance to take a little bit from each of those veterans and apply it to my game both on the field and as a leader, so I was very fortunate for that.
What does it mean to you to be captain of the National League team at the Home Run Derby? DW: It’s nice. They probably wouldn’t have asked if it weren't here in New York, because there are a lot of deserving home run hitters, but it’s going to mean a lot to me being here in front of the hometown crowd. This is a once-in-a-career opportunity to be involved with All-Star festivities in your home stadium, so I feel very fortunate for that…but the tough decision is who I’m going to pick for the team.
There’s a little bit of pressure. DW: A lot of pressure. I’ve been racking my brain for the last few weeks just trying to come up with some names, so now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty where I have to start narrowing that list down a little bit.
What would a start in the All-Star Game mean to you? DW: You want to start All-Star Games. You want to be considered an All-Star, but obviously you double that when it’s in your home stadium and you’re playing in front of your home fans. I got the opportunity to play [in the All-Star Game] at [the old] Yankee Stadium before they closed it down. It was very cool. So I think it would be even more exciting being in your home stadium, in your hometown, representing your team. Whether I’m a little biased or not, I think this is the greatest stage in the world as far as athletics go, no matter what sport.
Does it feel different playing at Citi Field than at Shea Stadium? DW: Yeah, very much so. Shea had a personality that I think developed over years and years and years—and maybe some of it wasn’t the prettiest personality, but it was home. Citi obviously is brand new. It has the new amenities. We’re still working on its personality, but obviously with the amenities it’s a beautiful new place. You know, it’s like anything—an old car, an old house, you’re going to miss certain things about it. It’s no different for me with Shea.
Do you have any favorite restaurants or bars in NYC? DW: I love to try out new restaurants. I’ve been fortunate to have lived all over the City. So I’ve gotten a chance to experience a little bit of everything.
Any favorites? DW: I love sushi, so I love trying new sushi places. I love pizza, so I love trying out new pizza places, too. A guy who used to work in our clubhouse actually opened his own pizza place called Brother’s. I love that place. They bring it into the stadium like once or twice a week and I crush that.
What would you tell someone who has never visited NYC to do? DW: I actually got the chance to for the first time a couple years ago to go up to the Empire State Building; that was awesome. I would recommend that. You know, [I'd recommend] the normal things; walk through Central Park on a nice day. That’s cool. Top of the Rock would be cool, but I’ve never been. I live in Virginia during the offseason, but I always try to make it up for a few days during the holidays to walk up and down Fifth Avenue, see the tree, do the whole tourist thing. I like to look at the Christmas decorations and Rockefeller Center and everything.
Any other spots you like? DW: I love the Bronx Zoo.
Has your impression of the City changed since you first arrived here 10 years ago? DW: I didn’t know what to expect. The first time I came to New York was to sign my first contract. I was 18 years old. I was just in awe of this City and I really embraced it. I’ve tried to make it like a second home. The fans have welcomed me from day one. They’ve seen a lot of mistakes on my part, a lot of strikeouts and errors. But they’ve always had my back, and I’m proud to be an honorary New Yorker.
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