Victorious Wright tips his cap at Fan Cave
Mets' All-Star third baseman reflects on big win at New Era event
NEW YORK -- The morning after the Mets made history against Mariano Rivera, David Wright was in Greenwich Village wearing white gloves and handling a 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers cap that Jackie Robinson had worn. Wright inspected the oldest ballcap in existence, a late-1860s blue model worn by a club in Baraboo, Wis., as well as a 1912 New York Highlanders cap worn in the first game at Fenway Park. There was a 1953 St. Louis Browns cap believed to be the oldest known 59FIFTY model.
The third baseman was asked if he ever inscribes anything special inside his cap, the way some players had done on the historic artifacts he was perusing on Wednesday.
"Just my number," Wright said. "I just want to know it's mine. I don't want my clean head in Daniel Murphy's dirty hat that's been on his head all day."
Wright was at a New Era event to promote its new Diamond Era Cap Collection, emceed by MLB Network analyst Al Leiter at the MLB Fan Cave, and there was a lot of talk about caps, but also a lot about what had happened just hours before.
Murphy, Wright and Lucas Duda had just done the impossible: force the Yankees' closer to exit a save situation for the first time without having recorded a single out. The Mets had taken the first two in the Subway Series at Citi Field, and now it was time to move to Yankee Stadium for two more, but not without much more dissection of a ninth inning that will be remembered for a long time.
"I enjoy it," Wright said of this new 2-and-2 format. "With us, it's probably beneficial because instead of playing the Yankees six times, we only have to play them four. The Yankees are usually a pretty good team. Maybe it adds a little more excitement, considering there is a smaller sample size. But I enjoy it, I'm glad we still have the Subway Series, I'm glad that New York still gets to, for those four days, talk a little trash back and forth to each other, wear the blue and orange or wear the pinstripes.
"I think that's what makes this series so great -- it's four days of jam-packed, just baseball action. Everywhere you walk in the city, you either see Yankees gear or Mets gear. That's what makes it so special."
With the Mets down, 1-0, Murphy led off the bottom of the ninth with a ground-rule double, and Wright drilled a 2-0 pitch up the middle to score Murphy with the tying run. Then Wright scored the winner on Duda's walk-off, broken-bat single to right.
"My mindset going into that at-bat was, 'There's a man on second with no outs,'" Wright said. "So I want to get a hit and tie the game, but worst-case scenario, I want to get Murph over to third with one out and hopefully let the next guy tie the game.
"So [Rivera] kind of surprised me a little bit. He had me all scrambled, because his first two pitches were two-seamers. I knew that he had thrown two-seamers before, but I had never seen it in person. You think of Mariano, you think of the cutter. So I was lucky I was able to fight one, stay inside of it, and it just kind of found a hole. Anytime you get a chance to steal one from the Great Mariano, you'd better take advantage of it, because that's a once-in-a-career type moment."
Wright said it was impossible to treat Tuesday "like another game."
"You try, but when the fans come out and they're as enthusiastic and energetic as they are, it can't help but rub off on the players," he said. "When you win a couple games the way we have, close games where offense is scuffling a little bit but we find a way to squeak out a win, I think it can provide a boost of some momentum heading forward, especially with the Subway Series.
"Yes, it's only one win, and you always like to beat the best teams in baseball, and obviously the Yankees are always one of the best teams, but bigger picture is you get that win and hopefully that can propel us and give us some momentum which we haven't had the first couple months of the year."
Wright also tied the score at 1 in the first game of the two-game Citi Field set on Monday by homering off Phil Hughes on the eighth pitch of a tough at-bat. The Mets would go on to win, 2-1.
"The last two nights for a hitter haven't been too fun," Wright said. "We've had two great pitching duels. The Hughes at-bat, I was able to see everything. For a hitter, that's what you want. When the pitcher shows you everything he has in one at-bat, your confidence just starts rising.
"He made a couple of good pitches that I was able to foul off, and I think that gave me a lot of confidence to say, 'You know what, if he throws another good pitcher's pitch, I can fight it off, foul it off, and if he makes a mistake, I'm going to be able to hit the ball pretty hard.' I took a couple good swings on off-speed pitches, so in my mind, I kind of thought he was coming with fastballs. He left a pretty good pitch over the middle of the plate, and I had seen everything else, so I was kind of looking forward to that."
That game ended with Wright catching a high popup from Travis Hafner. Wright admitted Wednesday that one name flashed in his mind as the ball was in the air.
"It's funny because that ball went up, and I hadn't thought about that play," Wright said, referring to what happened four years ago in a Subway Series game. "And as soon as that ball went up, the first thing that came to mind was: 'Luis Castillo.' Two hands, watch the ball into the glove, it was about as basic as I can make it."
The Diamond Era 59FIFTY caps were all laid out on a table at the Fan Cave, including the one with the familiar Mr. Met logo. That cap is used during each batting practice, and you can expect to see it during regular-season action at some point this season. Many clubs already have donned their Diamond Era lids during real games.
"I've been trying to beg to use this," Wright said, holding one of them. "We're OK to use these in a game, right?
"First and foremost, it's natural that you just want to look good on the field," he added. "But I guess more importantly than looking good is, the materials that you are using are built for performance. When you get the heat of the summer, you get to the point where you are playing 20-something games in a row, you sweat. When you sweat, the last thing you want to do is come back from hitting, put away your helmet and you get a soaking wet hat to put on your head. It's just an uncomfortable, somewhat of a distracting feeling. To have the wicking material to wear, and your hat's dry, it just gives you peace of mind, one less thing to worry about for a day game in St. Louis or Chicago."