As I grow older, I’m quick to forget what my mind doesn’t consider important. It’s been years since I remembered the name of the first girl I kissed, but I know the full name of the first female to break my heart.
I don’t remember the last time I was in Shea Stadium, but I’ll never forget my mother taking me to Flushing on Mother’s Day with ground level seats. Thanks to the power of Google, I can confirm it was May 14, 1989 and I moved down to the front row to watch Lenny Dykstra score on an infield error for a walk-off win before an announced crowd of 35,547.
That improved the team’s record to 20-14 and they were 1.5 games up in the National League East. It was an impressive start to the season, similar to what the team put together last year. With such a strong finish and an eventual National League championship, it’s easy to forget about the beginning.
After a 2-3 start that included taking two out of three from the preemptive greatest team ever assembled that still waiting for the rings that Bryce Harper ordered last offseason, the Mets won their next 11 games.
A team that came into the season with questions about their offense scored 57 runs during the streak, allowing 31 runs and truly taking advantage of the schedule by beating up on dregs of the division.
The 15-8 record in April helped keep them in first until mid-May, helped them overcome playing just below .500 in May and June and allowed them to stay with the underachieving gNats while waiting for John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell to provide some kind of offense with David Wright out indefinently.
But that was then and this year is different. Now we know that Wright won’t be the centerpiece star of the offense, that he won’t be required to knock in 100 runs. We know that Lucas Duda should have something resembling protection in the lineup for the first time since he’s been on the major league roster.
We know the pitching is top-quality, that Jeuyrs Familia can close games and Wilmer Flores can hit enough to offset questions about his defense.
OK, maybe we don’t know that last one but the optimist tells me to think positively about our super-sub who cries tears of orange and blue.
With just a week before the first pitch, I know it’s unrealistic to predict a similar start to the season but I feel it’s necessary and possible. After the silly two games in five days to start the season, they’ll face the Phillies and Marlins. What follows is nine games in 10 days against Cleveland, Philly and Atlanta.
I don’t remember how the team looked last spring, but I know I’m not the only one feeling a touch of panic watching games this spring. That panic will only grow if they get off to a slow start, especially thanks to the added expectations of defending their National League championship.
So what can you tell me to ease my tension? Am I overreacting to spring results or are you nervous too?