Monday, March 31, 2014


 2014 begins in earnest for the Mets this afternoon at Citi Field, where for the 10th consecutive year I will make my New Year's voyage to Flushing and join 41,999 of my brethren to hear Howie Rose welcome us to the National League Season in New York, and kick off Baseball 2014 with a ceremonial blow of the Shofar. 

The six intervening months between my last trip to Citi Field on September 29th and now have been somewhat turbulent, and that's not taking the Mets into account at all. By comparison, the Mets offseason was rather placid. Perhaps too placid when you consider that 2014 was supposed to be The Year, at least as far as the Alderson regime would have us believe. True, there's some new, somewhat flashier faces that will grace the field this overcast Monday afternoon, but whether it's the quantity or the quality of the new names, I know some Mets fans seem to want more. 

Given the way the past five versions of the Mets have played out, that's understandable.

Certainly, not having Matt Harvey around to take some hapless opponent's lunch money every 5th game is kind of a buzzkill. I do expect he'll be around to stand on the chalk and wave hello to everyone, but that's about all we'll get from him for a while. Other young, sexy names like Syndergaard, Montero et, al. won't be in Queens at all on Monday, leaving the Mets with an Opening Day roster that at first glance seems kind of perplexing. I'm not sure what to make of it other than to keep reminding myself that every Opening Day roster is littered with names that don't last the season. Remember how we hailed Collin Cowgill after last Opening Day?

So, without saying too much about what I expect, I'll offer up this: I expect that the following players will make meaningful/impactful contributions to the 2014 Mets (impactful, inasmuch as they will be as impactful as can be expected of players of their caliber):

I expect that the following players probably won't surprise us very much:
Jonathon Niese

I have no idea what the hell to expect from the following players:

I expect the following players won't be here very long (and in many cases wonder what the hell they're doing here altogether):
Andrew Brown

Not much else new can be said about Citi Field this season. Even the concession stands weren't made over, so if I want Blue Smoke, I've got to go downstairs, and if I want Pat LaFreida, I better be prepared to wait on line because the concessionaires at the Promenade level stand never really got it together from an expediency standpoint. And if I want Nathans Chicken and Hot Dogs? Well, I don't have to look too far. And if I'm feeling like a high roller, there's always the Promenade Club and their bucket of wings (part of me is hopeful that maybe they've expanded the food options there).  So there's not much I can expect on that end. It all comes back to the product on the field to provide something better.

I wrote, in my NL Preview, that the Mets needed an awful lot to go right this season if they expect to contend late into the season. The fact that there are 10 names comprising these last two lists (and yes, Valverde is a duplicate) says a lot, but again, rosters turn over quite a bit during the season, and the Mets have a number of players that are going to be kicking around AAA Ball this year that probably deserve a shot just as much as any of the fringe guys that actually made the team. Point is, the fringe guys that just snuck on here, well, don't get too comfortable (That means you, Quintanilla/Brown/Torres/Lannan). Come midseason, these names are going to be replaced with names like Syndergaard, Montero, den Dekker, Leathersich, Black and others, names that have made the Mets organization so highly regarded of late and names that will be counted on to return the Mets to a prominent level of play.

The rest? Well, it's going to require a lot of heart to make this team into something more than what everyone expects them to be. For whatever reason, I found myself thinking of this particular song, and of this particular recording (the musical it comes from need not be mentioned), because if there was ever a team that had heart, and the kind of insatiable heart that could be looked to for inspiration generations later, it would be the '69 Mets. What other team could get away with not only recording this song, but then going on the Ed Sullivan show and singing it after winning a World Series Championship? 

It's 45 years later, and if there's one thing this group of Mets has gotta have, well, They gotta have Heart.

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