By Ernie Palladino
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Let’s make it clear — the Mets won’t be playing meaningful baseball the second half of the season. We all know that. The Mets started out as a bad team and will continue as a bad, though hopefully improving, team if Ike Davis truly comes around.
This is not about standings. It’s about sex appeal. With Saturday’s official selection of David Wright and Matt Harvey to the All-Star team, Mets fans can now settle for the title of sexiest team in the majors. That’s sort of like being the runner-up to Miss Congeniality. Hey, when a team comes out of Jeremy Hefner’s masterful 2-1 win over the Brewers Sunday still 11 games under .500 and 11 ½ games out of a Wild-Card spot, any diversion from the misery is welcomed.
The title is well-earned, that’s for sure. You can keep Mariano Rivera, all his saves and his hired-assassin, cool-mound presence as he saws off one opposing bat after another. Robbie Cano’s hitting can be duplicated all over the All-Star rosters, right along with Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Yadier Molina or Joey Votto.
None of those All-Star starters stack up to Wright and Harvey, though. Not only do these guys hit and pitch, they’re also as sexy as all get-out. And that’s not just opinion, it’s proven fact.
The cougars of the world told us exactly what they think about Wright. The team’s marketing department reached out to the female, 40-and-over divorced users of a cougar website in mid-June in an effort to stuff the ballot boxes for Wright. Apparently, it did not amount to the total public-relations backfire many predicted.
A partnership between the Mets and the website never materialized, and there’s no telling whether those hungry felines’ votes actually did push baseball’s hottest cub past San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval and into the starting lineup. But the association didn’t hurt the boyish-looking — and let’s remember, engaged — third baseman, either.
It’s almost as if Wright and Harvey had joined in some surreal competition. The hard-throwing right-hander one-upped him, or more accurately, two-upped him by showing some skin to God and the world in ESPN The Magazine’s body issue. Given the culture of the dugout, only a pitcher with commanding stuff like Harvey would dare to participate in such a venture. It’s unlikely the catcalling he’ll undoubtedly encounter will affect him, at least until opponents find a way to catch up to his heat and track his breaking pitches.
Before this thing dives into total creep mode, it’s worth noting that sex appeal is certainly not the reason these two made the roster. Wright starts because he deserves it. Harvey should throw the first couple of innings at Citi Field because he deserves it.
Anyone who flicks on the TV when Harvey’s turn comes around knows all he needs to know about him. Unless he’s off, as he was in Wednesday’s six-inning, five-run loss to the Diamondbacks, he’s all but unhittable. Just ask those three teams he no-hit into the seventh inning this year.
Wright is hitting .306 after his 2-for-4 outing Sunday. That by itself is not enough to qualify Wright as the scourge of the National League. But it should be noted that when the Mets were on that nice winning arc, Wright was a catalyst. His June 23 game against the Phillies — a 4-for-5 outing with four extra-base hits — was certainly a highlight.
Remember, too, that Wright leads the league’s third basemen in runs (47), hits (96), doubles (19), and triples (5), stands second with 13 homers and a .521 slugging percentage and is third with 43 RBIs.
He’s done enough legitimately to warrant the starting honor, cougar vote or not.
Sadly, neither of these guys can produce enough to power the Mets to respectability this year. They’ll have to settle for Wright and Harvey representing them in the All-Star Game.
Oh, and certainly that runner-up to Miss Congeniality tag.
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