Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that the Mets would start the 2007 season with an opportunity to sweep the World Champion Cardinals, and to do it on the road.
The final game of the three game series, falls on the shoulders or should I say arm, of John Maine. Maine had a terrific spring and had a few impressive outings last month, but alas those games didn’t count, and tonight’s contest certainly will.
El Duque was absolutely fabulous last night as was Glavine the night before. Their performances sent a loud message to the rest of the National League East that they can, and will lead the rest of the rotation in 2007 as the Mets set out to repeat as NL East champs. What they did in no small part, was boost the confidence of an untested rotation as they laid down the gauntlet for Oliver Perez and John Maine to go out and pitch without feeling the need to carry the team on their young and unproven backs. That is what veterans like Glavine and El Duque mean to this team. Their leadership and contributions will be a key factor if the Mets are to aspire to the World Series.
John Maine has already garnered the respect of his teammates and the confidence of the fans after a gutsy season where he came out of relative obscurity to become a key member of the rotation. His post season performance only solidified his standing on the team. Now, after a fabulous spring, he will be counted on to step up once again and put away any notion that last years success was a fluke. He can begin by winning tonight and giving the Mets a little momentum as they head into Atlanta for a three game series this weekend.
Many people say that there is no such thing as a big game in April. I somewhat agree, but in tonight’s case I take exception. A three game sweep against the World Series Champs on the road to start the season will have a huge psychological effect not only for the Mets, but for their rivals as well. So I do think that tonight’s game can certainly be a huge win for the Mets in a season that I’m hoping will be full of many more huge wins not only in April, but in October and November as well.
By the way… Did you know that the Mets-Cardinals game on ESPN 2 on Sunday night was watched by 6.9 percent of households in the New York market compared to only 5.1 for the Yankees opener. Nationally, it was the most-viewed nationally televised opener since 1994, with an estimated 3.5 million viewers.