David Wright has been following John Tavares’ career ever since the Mets captain met the Islanders captain six years ago.
The meeting took place on June 28, 2009 at Citi Field, when Tavares, then 18 years old and only a few days removed from being the Islanders first-overall pick, took batting practice with the Mets before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
On Friday, Wright and his World Series-bound teammates came out to watch Tavares and the Islanders.
“I love watching hockey in person,” Wright said as he sat with his teammates at Barclays Center. “Knowing how knowledgeable and how much of a baseball fan John is, I’ve followed him and rooted for him. It’s fun to come out and see the live action.”
Wright was joined by a handful of Mets, including Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom and Daniel Murphy. For most Mets, Friday was their first Islanders game, but not for Stony Brook, native Steven Matz, who pitched the clinching win in the National League Championship Series Wednesday.
“I love the Islanders, they are a gritty little team,” Matz said. “I really got into them because where I did the rehab for my elbow, it was their rehab facility also, so I met some of the guys and that’s when I got into it.”
That’s where Matz met Kyle Okposo among others, while Matt Martin reached out to him this season. Matz – who was one team short of being a JIM – knows first-hand that there’s a lot of crossover between Mets fans and Islanders fans. It wasn’t lost on his teammates either.
“It seems like guys like Steven Matz, growing up on Long Island are big Mets fans and big Islanders fans,” Wright said. “You meet a different array of people, but it does seem like Mets and Islanders kind of mesh together.”
So it was no surprise when the crowd erupted for the Mets when they were shown on the jumbotron, wearing Islanders jerseys and supporting their orange and blue cousins on the ice. Far from the diamond, Wright and his teammates appreciated the raucous reception – the same type they get at Citi Field.
“It reminds me a lot of 2006,” Wright said. “This city, if you go out there and put a fun, entertaining, winning product on the field, it’s incredible. It’s the greatest sports stage in the world in my opinion. If you go out there and make this type of playoff run, there’s no place like it. The support, the energy, the electricity. There’s nowhere like winning New York.”
There’s one more hill to climb for the Mets, who play game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night in Kansas City.
For Tavares, whose Toronto Blue Jays were knocked out in the ALCS, rooting for the Mets – and for Wright – is a no-brainer. Six years after BP and a first pitch at Citi Field, it seems these two captains have made an impression on each other.
“When I met [Wright] you could tell what a person he is, what a great guy he is, the leader of that ball team,” Tavares said. “I’d like to see them do well and him as well, I’ve definitely become a fan of his.”
Tavares and company had to catch a flight immediately after the game, so the Mets will have to return for another game and a locker room tour. Maybe then, they’ll be bringing a pennant.