Opening Day in baseball is one of my favorite days of the year. For every team in baseball, it is a day when you have confidence in your team and everyone is in first place. Yes, even Mets fans, although you wouldn’t know it listening to the blowhards on talk radio, or if you flip through the tabloids on your train ride to work.
Yesterday, a picture perfect day in Queens, was a perfect day for a ballgame. A new era for the Mets has begun.
When the lineups were announced, we didn’t hear the familiar “Leading off, SS, #7, Jose Reyes!!!”. It was a final shot at reality that Reyes has gone to the party down in the neon palace in Miami. It was time to move on.
But as the rest of the lineup is announced, you start to think of what could be.
“Can Daniel Murphy stay healthy and continue to hit .300? Will David Wright and Jason Bay be helped out by the new dimensions and get back to their form? Will Ike Davis and and Lucas Duda provide the youthful power in the middle of the lineup?” You start to think to yourself, “maybe these guys won’t be so bad after all.”
Then words we haven’t heard since Sept 10, 2010, “Warming up in the bullpen, starting pitcher, #57 Johan Santana!!”. The man who many pundits said will never pitch again. And if he did, he would never be the same. Just seeing #57 out there gives you more of a good feeling.
“Can Johan give them 25 starts? If he can, maybe we will be ok.”
Yesterday, Johan gave the Mets 5 innings of 2 hit ball. He was vintage out there. was he throwing 95? No. But with a fastball at 88, and a change-up at 78, he was making hitters look silly. “Hey, he’s looking good out there. Just maybe huh?”
Since Santana only went 5 innings (80+ pitches), it was time to see the new bullpen that Sandy Alderson put together.
“Last year we lost so many game due to the bullpen, maybe if these guys can do the job, hey, we could be alright.”
Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco shut down the Braves for 4 innings to hold a Mets 1-0 and seal the victory.
“Wow, these guys look great out there. If they can keep it going…”
Yesterday was a day the Mets did everything right. Starting from the touching Gary Carter tribute, the beautiful new blue walls, the amazing new uniforms, to playing sound defense, to getting clutch hits, and getting phenomenal pitching. And yes, even having a sellout crowd (42,080 announced). It was one of those rare days where the Mets did no wrong. Maybe things are going in the right direction. With the Madoff mess now behind them, they immediately locked up Jon Niese on a 5-year deal. Will more deals be coming soon?
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Mets game without an injury. Andres Torres pulled up lame, re-aggravating his calf. On the bright side, the Mets play to bring up youngster Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
“Captain Kirk coming up?! Man, this kid could be just what we need!”
Now back to reality. This team certainly has lots of question marks, but I don’t believe that they will be historically bad like some folks seem to think. Will this team win 90 games? no. Will they lose 100? I don’t see how that is possible. Can this team win 80-83 games? Possibly. Will they lose more than they win? Probably. With the second wild card team added, this team has a shot to be ok, and be in the race. A .500 team is not out of the question, and that will put them there since the National League is not very good. The NL East has certainly gotten tougher, but I see all the teams beating up on each other.
Hey, it’s been one game, but if you can’t be positive now, when can you be? Ya Gotta Believe, right?