CINCINNATI -- The celebration was, by this point, inevitable. But David Wright had not had his moment. So the only current Met who also was on the 2006 team shifted his weight back, exploded forward and crushed a three-run homer over the center-field fence Saturday, providing the final margin in the Mets' 10-2, division-clinching win over the Reds.
"He is who he is: He's a special guy and he does special things," manager Terry Collins said, laughing out loud when asked about the ninth-inning homer. "To have him hit that home run today, it can't happen to a better guy."
No Mets player understands what this title means to the city and its fans more than Wright, who debuted in 2004 at age 21, won his first NL East title -- an achievement he now feels he "took for granted" -- in '06 and has not been back since. Along the way, Wright's own career fizzled as injuries mounted and statistics waned.
Wright's most difficult moments occurred in June and July, lying on his back at a physical therapy center in California, rehabbing his career-threatening spinal stenosis condition. Unsure if he would play again this season, Wright filled his head with thoughts of this: standing on the field, his wife a few paces away, fans screaming behind him, reporters asking about his success.
"This is what you dream of," Wright said. "This is what motivates you. This is what pushes you. This is what drives you."
Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, who flew in for the game, called Wright's the night's "exclamation point," both because of what it meant in the game and what it meant for Wright's career. It was Wilpon who sat down with his third baseman late in the 2012 season and, over burgers, tried to convince Wright to sign what ultimately became an eight-year, $138 million contract to make him a Met for life. Months later, the team named Wright its captain.
Saturday, that captain stood on the field, having played a significant role in the Mets' first clincher since 2006, and tried only to "bottle the emotion."
"I just can't help but to smile," Wright said, the fans behind him chanting his name. He ticked off the emotions he was feeling: "Jubilation. Excitement. A chance to take a sigh of relief, because it's been a long time coming."