Okay, I should have posted this column before the start of the season, but I wanted to wait until the first Mets loss before I did. In truth, the loss against the Marlins only makes the Mets 1-1 on the season, but the obvious reality is staring us in the face: there will be many more losses than wins this season. The oft-injured Metsies are once again a pain in the grass.
As a lifelong Mets fan, I take no pleasure in stating what is true here. I would have loved to write about our great winter acquisitions of John Lackey, Bengie Molina, and Orlando Hudson. Alas, all I can say is we have Jason Bay, but that’s like saying the Titanic had waterproof doors. I think Bay is a tremendous asset, and a real improvement over the likes of past left fielders George Foster or Stork Theodore, but he can’t get the job done alone.
When I see an opening day lineup featuring Met retread Mike Jacobs as the cleanup hitter, I start thinking fondly of the days when “slugger” Marvelous Marv Throneberry was in that spot for the Mets. How can the management of this team believe this is an equitable way to treat the fans: the ones who have to plunk down mucho dinero to get seats in the house that Citibank built?
All of this started last year: 2009 was the first year of pain in the grass at Citi Field. One by one like blue and orange dominoes, our Metsie fell onto the disabled list. Our wounded boys of summer included Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and Johan Santana. David Wright, who was hurt but valiantly played that way, had no help in the lineup, giving him as much protection as an acne-scarred teenager on a blind date with the head cheerleader.
We all suffered through the dubious explanations of what happened in 2009. We listened to the comic relief of skipper Jerry Manuel in his press conferences, holding his disabled list and walking and talking like Hamlet going across the stage with the skull of Yorick the fool. No matter how much goodwill Jerry managed to establish, the aftertaste of 2009 eventually resonated with fans like a greasy burger and a glass of curdled milk.
Everyone wanted to get past last year. We had the beautiful new stadium to think about. All the excitement generated by the dedication of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda helped matters a bit, but one couldn’t stop from gazing at the hallowed ground where the simply wonderful but ugly Shea Stadium once stood and thinking, man, those were the days. Can you imagine actually feeling nostalgic for Shea Stadium after all the horrible seasons there? That is what the 2009 Mets did to us.
Along comes 2010 and we Mets fans have been waiting for the year that should have been last year. We hear the good news about Jason Bay, but we keep wondering when they’re going to pull the strings and get some more help. We need a starting pitcher, we need a second baseman, we need a first baseman, and we need some arms in the pen. As we were waiting for this good news, Carlos Beltran goes down as the first casualty of 2010. Carlos is hurt again? Kids were wandering around Flushing muttering, “Say it ain’t so, Carlos!” Can you imagine kids wandering around a place called “Flushing” saying anything else?
Along the way to spring training we got pictures of Jose Reyes running bases and looking good, and then the next thing we know he is being shut down because of an undisclosed illness. Another guy on the DL? It’s only March. We learn about his thyroid problems and start longing for the days when Chico Escuela was telling the world how berry good baseball had been to him. Damn, we would even take good old Felix Millan back if we could get him in a trade for Luis Castillo.
In silence Mets fans suffer as the Yankees management always adds this and that to the pot, like chefs who find the right ingredients to make the stew delicious. No matter how much I hate the Yankees (and it grows more intense with the passing of each season), I do have to give them credit for going out and getting talent. The problem is how they treat that same talent when they’re done with them. Just ask Bernie Williams and Johnny Damon how it feels. Or even better yet, ask Joe Torre. He knows how it feels to be kicked in his former Yankee butt.
But I digress, because the problem here is the 2010 Mets. We just have to face reality, Mets fans. I am going to predict a very stark reality for you: we will be lucky if we get a record of 72-90. I don’t know if we can even expect that much. Hey, I’m being honest as I can be.
What can we expect of the 2010 team
Oliver Perez will melt down faster than a candle in a furnace. John Maine will probably win 10-12 if he can get his head on straight. Mike Pelfrey wins 9 or 10 games if he’s lucky, and while Jon Niese is nice, I don’t think we can expect more than 9 or 10 wins from him either. That leaves poor Johan, who is probably thinking I should have signed with the Nationals and would have had a better shot at winning. If Johann stays healthy, his record will be something like 14-10.
As for the everyday guys, I like Jeff Francoeur, Bay and Wright. They will get their numbers, but not anywhere near what they would get if they were playing somewhere else. Besides, if you have been to Citi Field, the ball goes up and then it dies up there in some kind of stagnant air that comes in off Flushing Bay. Wright hits 20 homers if he is lucky; Bay gets to 25, and Francoeur maybe hits 15. If the team gets 100 homers this year, we’ll give them the old Ed Kranepool trophy for power hitting. By the way, I always loved sweet old Ed. I wonder if he is still available to play first base?
I hope I am wrong, Mets fans, but I don’t think so. If Santana could pitch on two days rest, maybe we’d have a chance. Right now I am thinking the worst, and I wish it could be otherwise. I will still wear my orange and blue because those are my team colors, and I will accept the losing because our Mets were born from losing. As the great Casey Stengel used to say, “You can look it up.” Of course, you can. One thing I can tell you is that we won’t lose 120 games this year. Of that I am certain, but we will get to around 90 losses and that means 2010 will be another real pain in the grass at Citi Field.