In New York City this morning it’s 31 degrees one week into spring. One of those difficult days to be a resident or a sports fan. Typically, around this time of year the back pages of the New York City tabloids are devoted to looking ahead, not reporting on the present or looking back at the past. That has historically meant focusing on spring training baseball from sunny Florida, where the promise of outdoor activity in uplifting surroundings is a wonderful way to sell copies or create click-throughs.
Yesterday, the Mets’ historically talented and unprecedentedly expensive top two members of its rotation, Jacon DeGrom and Max Scherzer, teamed up at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie for a scheduled two-man only stint against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. With an overflow crowd on hand, they and the Mets did not disappoint. DeGrom, in his second start of the spring, allowed one run on four hits with five strikeouts over three innings. Scherzer began the fourth and took it to the finish line, surrendering two earned runs on three hits with seven strikeouts and one walk over six innings in which he unloaded 90 pitches.
On top of that, last year’s big ticket free agent, shortstop Francisco Lindor, hit two home runs, one from each of the plate, and gave DeGrom a rare offensive support at the outset that carried into a boost for Scherzer later in the afternoon. While only halfway through a shortened spring where stats are indeed meaningless, DeGrom’s health looks solid, Scherzer is dominant and Lindor has a 1.444 OPS percentage, third best in all baseball.
Should any of these trends continue into the regular season, Citi Field will be a destination for cool people to venture out to, and these names will dominate the front page, the back page and, likely, the gossip pages of all the dailies. If all three come to pass, the 60th season of the Mets could be as eventful as the 25th anniversary season of 1986. And most of us know how that wound up.
We are a LONG way from that at this point. And any Mets fan can assert that the best laid plans of mice, men and Metaphiles oft times go astray.
For now, the anticipation is building. For above-freezing temperatures, games that count and something resembling a normal season trajectory a change. The Mets are slated to open the season in Washington a week from Thursday, just as they were a year ago. An outbreak of COVID-19 among the Nats’ players scrapped that series entirely. The Mets opened the season behind the eight ball, and despite some sporadic spurts of inspired play ultimately fell short. For now, the games are on, DeGrom starts Game 1 and Scherzer Game 2. If I sound excited, I am. No matter how dark and long or challenging an off-season is–and lately, with all else going on, such lulls are especially trying–as long as the season is finally on track to start things can’t be completely dire.
Not every day will go as ideally as yesterday. Today’s a “camp day” with no game against another team scheduled. A good team to take a breath, appreciate what was for a change and then shift back to anticipation mode.