189 days have passed since Miguel Batista's 2-hit shutout gave the Mets a 3-0, season-ending win over the Reds. That was Game 162 in 2011, but tomorrow, a new chapter begins with Game 1 of the 2012 New York Mets season.
With less than 24 hours till the first pitch at Citi Field, it's time to cover the best-and-worst-case scenarios for the Amazin' 50th Anniversary season, followed by the official prediction by Midwestern Met as to how Terry Collins's boys will fare this year.
Let's begin with some optimism.
The Best-Case Scenario
Johan Santana pitches like a former Cy Young winner. The rest of the staff shows improvement over last season. Andres Torres embodies not just the spirit but the physical abilities of Jose Reyes, steals 30 bases and bats .300. Daniel Murphy finally finds a home at second base. Wright, Davis, Bay, and Duda all figure out the new Citi Field and hit 25+ home runs. 22-year-old Ruben Tejada plays like he would at age 25. Bobby Parnell gets it together and becomes closer. Rest of bullpen runs middle of the road instead of the bottom of the barrel. Phillies' walkers give out, team falls and can't get up. Marlins lose their buzz when they realize they still have only 9 fans. Braves' collapse continues into this year. Nationals are good but aren't there yet. Mets win 86 games and grab second Wild Card slot, Johan pitches New York to the playoffs against St. Louis in the play-in game. Oh, and this web site suddenly needs to find a new niche.
The Worst-Case Scenario
Johan Santana pitches like a guy who missed a whole year, struggles to stay on the mound. Through injury and sick luck, Mike Pelfrey becomes de facto ace. Andres Torres embodies the fragility of Jose Reyes, misses 2/3 of the season. Wright and Bay get distracted by the pretty blue walls and hit 15 homers each. Ike's Valley Fever acts up and he has to follow Carlos Beltran's early-2011 plan of sitting every day game. Turns out Parnell's Spring Training ERA was so good because he spent all his good pitches in Florida, he gets rocked like a hurricane. Phillies hire the bad guy from The Incredibles to give them super abilities, win 110 games and the World Series. Marlins gain 4 more fans and the magic of a baker's dozen (if there is such a thing). Braves rebound from last year's collapse and Ted Turner funds Chipper Jones's successful quest for the Fountain of Youth, Larry sticks around to kick our ass for 10 more years. Stephen Strasburg embodies the spirit of Walter Johnson and the future is now for the Nationals. Mets commemorate their lovable 1962 season with a not-so-lovable 100+ loss campaign. No, Mr. Stengel, "can't nobody here play this game." (Please excuse that awful syntax.)
Obviously, none of the above scenarios are very likely. Everything would have to go right for New York to make the playoffs, and everything would have to go wrong to lose 100 games. A little more realistic is this:
Midwestern Met's Prediction for the 2012 New York Mets
Johan, while not up to classic form, is a decent starter and wins 10+ games. R.A. Dickey resumes his role as ace, become a true leader. Pelfrey is closer to 2010 Pelf than 2011 Pelf. David Wright turns in a vintage year with 30 home runs, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda each hit 20+. Jason Bay rebounds a bit to hit 18 longballs. Bobby Parnell becomes more consistent and really does compete for closer. The team plays hard right to the end of the year, making Terry Collins proud. In their golden anniversary season, the New York Mets finish an even 81-81, good for 4th in the NL East, ahead of the Braves and just behind the Nationals. A solid foundation is set in place for the future, and with all that pitching in the pipeline, a bright future is finally within our sights.
Oh, and if this web site goes out of business, R.A. Dickey is the man to do it.
If we can finish .500 and everyone turns in a respectable year, I can live with that. This may not be a World Series year, but hopefully it can be one that reminds us all why we're here, why we root for our boys. And whatever happens, it's still Mets baseball, and we've got six months to enjoy it, starting with Game 1 tomorrow.
Interestingly enough, it turns out that at .640, the Mets have the highest Opening Day winning percentage in MLB history, more than 50 points above the next-highest franchise. Let's hope that's a good omen for tomorrow.
Finally, it just wouldn't be Mets baseball if we didn't begin April by singing that greatest of all baseball fight songs:
We'll see you tomorrow for Game 1 at Citi Field!