(l-r : world’s most marketable public figure, Rocky Marciano biographer / CIA operative)

The New York Times’ Ben Shpigel
observes the rapid rise to fame of the New York Mets’ Hip-To-Be-Square David Wright, concluding breathlessly, ” Men want to be him. Women want to marry him. As major league rosters become increasingly international, Wright is emerging as an intriguing counterpoint.”

The Mets are being careful not to single out Wright in boldface type. Thankful as they are to have him signed for the next six seasons, they prefer to market him within the mosaic of the other All-Star players who dot their roster and, particularly, in tandem with shortstop José Reyes, who has blossomed alongside Wright on the left side of the infield. The Mets™ stance is reflected by the cover of the team™s 2007 media guide, which features Manager Willie Randolph and five other players in addition to Wright and Reyes.

œOne thing we have to be careful about is overexposing David, going to him too often, said Dave Howard, the Mets™ executive vice president for business operations. œNot only is he attractive in the business community, but he hardly ever says no. We have to remind ourselves that we™re a team that has a number of attractive, very marketable, players.

It is within that group that Wright™s role may be changing this season, with Randolph leaning toward moving him from fifth to second in the batting order. It is a position that often puts less emphasis on hitting home runs and more on the less glamorous tasks of working the count and getting on base and sometimes hitting behind runners. It is, of course, the spot in the order in which Jeter helped the Yankees capture four World Series championships and defined himself as the ultimate winner.

This is all heady stuff for the Mets, and for Wright, who has made a rapid ascent within New York™s baseball and social circles, quickly transforming himself from a fresh-faced youngster from Virginia who carted around Cliff Floyd™s luggage into a high-profile bachelor with a newly purchased multimillion dollar loft in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. His charity, the David Wright Foundation, is already two years old, with Wright starting it at the same age that Jeter began his Turn 2 foundation. Meanwhile, the endorsement opportunities keep pouring in, with Wright trying to keep a sense of perspective, and even honor, about it all.

œIf I were to do all the things that come in by the boatload, I feel like I™d be distracted from what the main goal is, and that™s baseball, Wright said. œI understand if I stop performing on the field and if this team doesn™t win, then those things go away.

œI™m not doing this to be a billboard, added Wright, whose affiliations include brands like Wilson, vitaminwater and Hickey Freeman. œI don™t want to be a Nascar car that has 100 different stickers on it. I™m only going to put my name on something that I believe in and something that I would use even if I don™t have an endorsement.

Dr. Jae Rock Lee was unavailable for comment.