The Mettle of Kolten Wong

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want

to test a man’s character, give him power

—Abraham Lincoln

I remember back in April of 2014 when Kolten Wong was inexplicably benched and then subsequently sent down to Memphis for several weeks. It made no sense to me at the time; the offense as a whole was struggling, but Wong was doing no worse than others on the starting squad, in fact he was doing a little better than a few. The explanation that was given was a non sequitur; the offense was struggling, therefore Wong needed to “face adversity”. Many of us thought at the time that the explanation from Mike Matheny was a heaping pile of horse hockey. But then again, many of Matheny’s explanations for things fit that mold. Anyway, Wong went to Memphis and hit the snot out of the ball for three weeks. Yeah, he really needed to be there.

In the meantime, Wong’s replacement, Mark Ellis, was setting the world on fire. Yes, that is sarcasm. I had no issues with Ellis, his signing was welcomed by me because he had some seriously good defensive skills and I believed he would be an asset to the bench as a back up second baseman. He also was a league average hitter in his career, which was a long one. Unfortunately, age and injury took its toll on him and he was unable to get anything going with the bat in 2014.

However, it appeared Matheny found Ellis’ “veteraniness” appealing and couldn’t wait to allow Ellis to have sufficient rehab work in the minors after his injury before having him brought to the big leagues. Ellis had one rehab start, and then was brought up to play in Wong’s stead while Wong sat on the bench and contemplated his navel. After a while, Wong was sent to Memphis, and we were treated to all the Mark Ellis we could handle (or not, as it turned out). Eventually, Wong came back and was reinstated to the starting second base position, with recurring intervals of Mark Ellis still to be had.

I regurgitate all of this Wong history for one purpose. To show just how far Kolten Wong has come in his big league career. From the days of involuntarily “facing adversity” to the days of being the kind of second baseman we all had hoped for. The kind like we saw play last night against the Washington Nationals. We saw some dazzling, web gem worthy plays on defense, and some really big hits on offense. Kolten Wong showed us what he is made of and we like it. We like it a lot.

Now, Wong is still going to have bad days, as does every big league player. Hopefully there will be no more banishments for illusory purposes. Kolten Wong is a major league second baseman and there should be no more doubts about that, even during the inevitable periods of struggle. Adversity happens to everyone, and it shouldn’t have to be faced in shame and disgrace.

Kolten Wong is the second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Thank you for reading.

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