Friday, March 20, 2009

Starting Over

So this is the third season of this blog, but none of the previous seasons have worked out so well. Nevertheless, I feel that it is my obligation to try again, regardless of whether or not I can keep it up.

The Mets have drastically revamped their bullpen, acquiring two of the best closers in the game in Fransisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. Some question marks remain about the back-end of the pitching staff, but with Santana at the front and Pelfrey looking like he's picking up this spring where he left off last season, if the Mets can get John Maine healthy and re-signed Oliver Perez sane, the staff has the potential to be one of the best in the division, if not the National League. The three-man battle for the fifth starter between Tim Redding, Livan Hernandez and Freddy Garcia seems to be clearing up, for no reason other than Redding being hurt and Garcia being awful. Hernandez could be a solid fifth starter if he can pitch decently--he's fairly durable (unlike his half brother El Duque, whom Mets fans are quite familiar with) and he can eat a lot of innings.

The lineup scored quite a few runs last year, and I think Castillo will be better, Delgado will be worse than the second half last season, while Reyes, Beltran, Wright and even Daniel Murphy are looking for more consistency. Kind of like the rest of the team actually.

So the team is moving into a new stadium and ridding itself of bitter Shea memories from the past three seasons. Starting over implies a clean slate, a renewed chance to achieve the goals they set four years ago when the promise of the "New Mets" brought Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran to Queens. Beltran has said that he's surprised that he hasn't made a World Series yet, but thinks that the future holds one.

This team is different than those teams. They have a new manager, a thoughtful, philosophical guy no one would accuse of ultimately being a true Yankee and not a Met. They have new pitchers-- a new star rising from the farm system in Mike Pelfrey who finally offered gleams of his potential, an ace in Johan Santana who proved on a cool September on the primeval day of the season that he was the messiah every one predicted, and a fiesty, passionate closer who will fit right into the self-confident New York attitude, and also happens to be the best closer of his day. Yes, this is the second (or third or fourth) new beginning, the New New Mets, another chance to rebuild the dynasty in the way it should have been.

We, as fans, hope the new start holds a certainty of success --an impossible thing, of course, because baseball is baseball and Mets fans are Mets fans. The imminence of failure is our ever-present pal. We hold fast to that dream for that Great Hope of seeing a late October game in shiny new Citi Field this season. But until then, we can only take satisfaction in starting afresh, in off-season dreams and wishes, in the fanatical optimism we only dare to hold in our strangest dreams, the hope in starting over. And that's when we realize: that's what being a fan was all about in the first place.