Thursday, April 5th is Opening Day at Citi Field (Flushing, NY) for my beloved New York Mets.  So, I guess can be considered a Mets Apologist!  It’s been that way for the last thirty years.  Growing up in Queens, NY – my dad would bring me to Shea Stadium and I would be subjected to an organization that always played second fiddle and little brother to the Evil Empire.  Fortunately, all I cared about was enjoying a father and son day – watching a ball game an eating cracker jacks and hot dogs.

This era pre-dated the 24 HR news cycle exposing us to:

  • Moneyball
  • Bill James
  • Steroids
  • 30HR/100RBI (being an off year)

As a teenager in 1986 – I remember watching the World Series and still wondering how Bill Buckner let the ground ball go under his legs.  That Mets franchise was lead by Gary Carter, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry – managed by Davey Johnson and built by general manager – Frank Cashen.  Built on youth and sprinkled with the right veteran leadership.

Did the “great” Joe Torre really manage the NY Mets?  I remember attending Shea Stadium right after the 1994 strike and purchasing tickets for $1 and serenading my favorite player “Darryl Strawberry” with “Darryl – Darryl” chants when he returned as a San Francisco Giant.  Yes, this was during the time Barry Bonds became the self-imposed “Superman”.  The highs and low and the great Subway Series that New Yorkers’ will never forget.  Bobby Valentine returning to the dugout with a mustache and Mike Piazza battling Roger Clemens classic battles.   Those were the glory seasons.

There are visions of Carlos Beltran being called out on a third strike in the 2006 NL Championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals – still wondering why he didn’t swing on the full count pitch.  The Willie Randolph “managed” collapses at the end of the season. The Omar Minaya era (why is he still on the Mets payroll) – who is a phenomenal talent scout – whiffed on several trade and signing “over the hill” and/or “juiced up” free agents.  We’ve limped through the Madoff years and watched Jose Reyes sign with a division rival. To say the Mets ownership is extremely disliked by their fan base – is an under-statement.  Steven Cohen and/or Mark Cuban – could you please make one more run at the Fred Wilpon and over-pay for this franchise —we need you.

The time is NOW – the Mets are replenishing their farm system and have youth on their side – along with a healthy David Wright, Jason Bay and Johan Santana.  The brain-trust of Sandy Alderson and his two trusty lieutenants – Paul DePodesta (GM is waiting) and J.P. Ricciardi handling player development / scouting and special assignments duties.  As the front office sliced and diced payroll – primarily because of austerity / the Madoff dealings / unpaid loans to Major League Baseball / Bank of America and the fact the team was losing 70MIL a season.  All debts are now “tetelestai”.  I guess old is new again – the new/old retro uniforms look great!

As a fan – Citi Field is a great stadium (not many bad seats) with the Jackie Robinson Rotunda / Mets Hall of Fame & Museum and McFadden’s.  The additional wildcard slot should keep things interesting and hopefully the return of Johan Santana and a healthy team – optimism is in the air.  The re-configuration of left and right field should help David Wright and Jason Bay.  The Mets could possibly win 80-85 games this year (yeah, I know 80 wins hasn’t happened in three years) and an average of 24,000 fans are expected to show up for 81 home games this season.  I guess you can tell that I’m an optimist and excited (not nearly as excited as Tim Tebow at his NY JETS press conference) to attend Opening Day as every fan enjoys it.  It’s rather simple, your team is in first place and has an undefeated record.

Let’s hope for the BEST – Banner Day returns this year.  We should see Gary Carter’s jersey retired and it’s the 50th anniversary for this franchise!  Looking forward to a positive, productive season with a wild card slot  or once again — I’m just your delusional NY Mets fan.

What do you expect to see from the Mets this season?