Baseball season beckons on our doorstep once again, and with it comes the annual fanatical optimism for every fan.
Mets fans are no different.
In fact, we're probably worse.
Every spring, we come up with new reasons why we are clearly the best team in the division, the "team to beat."
But this year, it actually could be true. Of course, everyone says that in March.
The Mets have drastically revamped their bullpen, acquiring two of the best closers in the game in Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz.
Some question marks remain about the back end of the pitching staff, but with Johan Santana at the front and Mike Pelfrey looking like he's picking up this spring where he left off last season, if the Mets can restore John Maine health and the re-signed Oliver Perez's sanity, the staff has the potential to be one of the best in the division, maybe even the best in the National League.
The three-man battle for the fifth rotation spot between Tim Redding, Livan Hernandez, and Freddy Garcia seems to be clearing up, for no reason other than Redding being hurt and Garcia being awful.
Hernandez could be a solid fifth starter if he can pitch decently—he's fairly durable (unlike his half brother El Duque, whom Mets fans are quite familiar with), and he can eat a lot of innings.
The lineup scored quite a few runs last year, and I think Luis Castillo will be better. Carlos Delgado will be slightly worse than the second half of last season (which is kind of a misnomer considering how good he was), while Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and even Daniel Murphy are looking for more consistency.
Kind of like the rest of the team actually.
The team is moving into a new stadium and ridding itself of bitter Shea memories from the past three seasons. Starting over implies a clean slate, a renewed chance to achieve the goals they set four years ago when the promise of the "New Mets" brought Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran to Queens.
Beltran has said that he's surprised that he hasn't made a World Series yet, but thinks that the future holds one.
This team is different than those teams. They have a new manager—a thoughtful, philosophical guy no one would accuse of ultimately being a true Yankee and not a Met.
They have new pitchers, too—a new star rising from the farm system in Pelfrey, who finally offered gleams of his potential; an ace in Santana who proved on the primeval day of the season that he was the messiah everyone predicted; and a feisty, passionate closer who will fit right into the self-confident New York attitude.
Yes, this is the second (or third or fourth) new beginning for the New York Mets, and another chance to rebuild the dynasty the way it should have been all along.
We, as fans, can hope the new start holds a certainty of success—an impossible thing, of course, because baseball is baseball and Mets fans are Mets fans. The imminence of failure is our ever-present pal.
We hold to that dream for that Great Hope of seeing a late October game in shiny new Citi Field this season.
Until then, we can only take satisfaction in starting fresh, in offseason dreams and wishes, in the fanatical optimism we only dare to hold in our strangest dreams.
The hope in starting over.
And that's when we realize-- that's what being a fan was all about in the first place.