We can move past last season, the likes of Lima Time! will not appear. Nor Jeremi Gonzalez. Nor Victor Zambrano. Of course, we will also be without Uncle Cliffy (a cub), and Dirty Sanchez (injured) and Pedro (injured as well, but hopefully back for the stretch run).
We have much to look forward too. Can Beltran build on his awesome MVP type season from last year? Will Delgado give his newborn
From the mound we have Glavine looking for #300 and another ring. We have El Duque, continuing to defy Father Time. We have the hope of John Maine and Oliver Perez building on their excellence in Games 6 and 7, when no one thought they could step up. And the new hope of Mike Pelfrey. It has been over 20 years it seems since the Mets last had a high potential starting pitcher reach that potential. It is time for the baseball gods to let it happen again.
Oh, their are those who do not share the optimism. The "experts" at the World Wide Leader in many cases do not see out Mets making the playoffs at all (I'm talking to you Steve "Skill Sets" Phillips.) They worry about the pitching being old or unproven, while at the same time ignoring the same about other teams. Players on other teams declare their second place 12 game back teams to be the "team to beat", while others who should know their place agree (paging Mr. Jacobs).
The Mets fan is used to all of that. We suffer the slings and arrows time and again. We are immune to the catcalls. This is no longer Art Howe and Jim Duquette. We have Willie and Omar. This is not Mo Vaughn or Robbie Alomar. This is Wright and Reyes. And Beltran. And Delgado. There are no Benny Agbayani's here, we have Endy Chavez.
We have faith, because that is what is best about sports. Having a favorite team means sticking with it through thick and thin, not jumping off at the first time of trouble. Or jumping on because a team is winning. We have been there in the dark days of the late 1970's, seen the hope of the mid 1980's, the pain of the 1990's, and the joy of 2000, and of last year.
We hear the experts and scoff, because when they doubt our boys despite the evidence, they have been proven wrong. Last year few expected the Mets to own the NL East. The Braves were still the team to beat, despite signs of a collapse. They derided the pen and rotation, yet the pen was solid, among the best in the game. The rotation persevered. The lineup ran roughshod over all comers, till the NLCS.
Hope returns on Sunday. Yes, we worry over Spring Training, and wish things had gone smoother, but realize that a lot of guys who were young, or perhaps will not make the team this year, were there playing for much of the pre-season. Championships are not won in March, they are won in October.
We have some worries of course. The loss of Dirty. The aching elbow of Heilman. Wright's missing power stroke. Shawn Green. But we have faith in them all, that they will do their best, and that in the end they will succeed. We have faith that Willie will make all the moves he needs to make to ensure the best players are on the field. We have faith that Omar will find another hidden gem for us if needed.
Sunday, it all starts again. We can sit back and watch another season unfold. And hope that it will be as good, if not better than last.