February 3, 2014
Mets Pitchers and Catchers Report in Two Weeks
The best three words in the lexicon of baseball fans, Pitchers and Catchers, are now on the short horizon. Once the NFL season ends, we can turn our collective attention to Port St. Lucie, Florida, where Spring Training begins at Tradition Field on February 15.
Optimism abounds at the outset of a baseball season. Every player's potential is penciled in as probable performance. Minor league phenoms are glorified by writers and fans alike. No one ever lands on the DL. There are no rain-outs.
Of course, these are the Mets - so all of the absurdly unpredictable can and will happen. Johan Santana, last spring's best example of the cruel realities of life in Major League Baseball, didn't throw a pitch in the regular season.
So what's next for this star-crossed franchise? The worst thing that could happen is if any of the starters comes up with a long term injury. If we see Dice-K pitching in May, it's going to be a long season. A shortened campaign for David Wright is another catastrophe from which the Mets could not recover. If Travis d'Arnaud doesn't hit, he lands in the category with the like of Lastings Milledge: Mets prospects with strange names and over-hyped potential. Anthony Recker then becomes our catcher. If these things happen, we are essentially doomed.
On the plus side, widely reported is that the financial condition of the club has been greatly improved by the refinancing of its $250M loan to cover its owners' Madoff losses. The terms of the new loan permit an expanded payroll, which might come in handy if they are in it at the trade deadline. (A quick aside about how we were all duped for the past few years: we knew they weren't spending money, but we though it was because the Wilpons were cheap. It turns out they were contractually precluded from increasing payroll. I can't decide which one is worse.)
So for now we wait patiently for the next two weeks to pass quietly into the winter. Once the Mets start warming up and taking batting practice, the real fan's heart beats a little faster and his step is a little lighter.