They were the best of times, they were the worst of times. But nevertheless, they’ve provided us with memories. So, who am I talking about? The two New York pretty boys who were blessed to be on the teams that end with ETS: David Wright and Mark Sanchez.
Both Wright and Sanchez were first round selections by their respective teams. Wright was a compensation pick after the Rockies signed Type-A free agent Mark Hampton. The Jets traded their first and second round selections along with Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam, and Brett Ratliff to the Cleveland Browns so they could acquire Sanchez.
Both Wright and Sanchez are in the middle of lucrative contracts. Wright is in the 6th year of his 6-year/$55 million contract, being owed $15 million this season and $16 million if the Mets decide they can afford it. If Wright gets dealt, then the option is voided. Sanchez just completed the 3rd year of his 5-year/$50 million contract, with $28 million being guaranteed. Sanchez’s contract is the largest contract the Jets signed a player to in franchise history.
So why bring up Mark Sanchez in the same sentence as David Wright? Like Wright, Sanchez is the face of the organzation; he the guy you go to when the team wins, but he’s also the first guy you look to when the team loses. These two pretty boys may be the same player on the outside, but there is one glaring difference that makes one of these players more accountable than the other.
Prior to the outset of the 2011 season, Rex Ryan went to Mark Sanchez and said, “You’re the captain of this team.”
None of the three managers that David Wright has played for has ever told him he’s the captain of the team. Sure, with the departure of Jose Reyes, Wright is now the longest-tenured Met but that doesn’t necessarily translate into putting a “C” across his jersey. In fact, the Mets haven’t had a team captain since John Franco was the captain during Wright’s rookie season.
When things go wrong for the Jets, Mark Sanchez is an easy person to point to and be like, “If you hadn’t gotten sacked six times, we might have had a chance!”
In football, you’re either not getting enough offense or defense. If Mark Sanchez isn’t throwing touchdown passes, then it doesn’t matter what Derelle Revis and the defense do. The defense can still have a shoddy day if Mark Sanchez throws touchdown passes. So, even though the team’s defense had a bad outing, it still comes back to Mark Sanchez.
Earl Weaver once said that the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same–pitching. Because of that, I believe that David Wright can have an off day and scoot by, especially if the starter on the mound has a bad outing (I’m looking at you, Mike Pelfrey). Even though he doesn’t have the weight of the team on his shoulders, sometimes, David Wright does play as if he has the weight of the team on his shoulders. And with a team that was basically the Buffalo Bisons, maybe he was guilty of swinging when he shouldn’t have or throwing too quickly to first or whatever. But every time something goes wrong for the Mets, it won’t necessarily come back to David Wright.
Both David Wright and Mark Sanchez have gotten their due from the New York sports media. However, I feel that David Wright may be one of the few cases where the New York sports media has been fair. They’re not afraid to say when it is David Wright’s fault, but they’ll also highlight whenever he has a charity dinner and what not. Mark Sanchez, because he has been labeled the team leader, may not often recieve the benefit of the doubt. In recent days, players have labeled Sanchez as “lazy” and have accused Sanchez of lacking the leadership skills needed of a good quarterback. But it doesn’t matter that during the labor dispute, Sanchez organized private workouts for more than 40 of his teammates.
David Wright and Mark Sanchez are not Derek Jeter and Eli Manning. But they are the faces of their franchises nonetheless, and I’m sure we’ll continue to scrutinize and praise them more than the other guys on the team.