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New York Mets: Thoughts from the Home Opener

NEW YORK - APRIL 13: Members of the U.S. military hold a giant flag on the field as the National Anthem is performed prior to the start of the opening day game between the San Diego Padres and the New York Mets at Citi Field on April 13, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. This is the first regular season MLB game being played at the new venue which replaced Shea stadium as the Mets home field.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Andrew KahnCorrespondent IApril 14, 2009

I was at Citi Field last night for the New York Mets' home opener against the San Diego Padres (Padres won, 5-4). Here are some thoughts from the game.

Apples to Apples

The new apple made its debut last night, emerging from its black hat home in the fifth inning courtesy of David Wright. The apple is shinier and has more lights than the Shea Stadium version did, but all in all its the same gimmick that Mets fans have loved for years. Had the old apple not survived the demolition, I probably would've felt differently, but since it, too, is displayed at Citi Field, I have no qualms with the new apple.

We Beat 'Em, Don't Join 'Em

I do, however, have a problem with the eighth inning sing-a-long. Simply put, "Sweet Caroline" has got to go. Like many people, I like the song, but this is a Boston Red Sox thing, not a New York Mets thing.

Personally, I think the "Lazy Mary" rendition during the seventh-inning stretch is enough, but if the Mets feel the need to play another song the following inning, let's hope they go with something other than "Caroline." The Monkees' "I'm A Believer" seemed to be a hit at Shea last year, so why not go with that? Please, anything other than a Fenway rip-off. Of course, it could be worse.

So Right, It's Wrong

I found this hard to believe, but the Padres don't have a left-handed pitcher. That's right, not one of San Diego's starters nor relievers is a lefty. That can't be a good way to construct a pitching staff, particularly in the bullpen, but we'll see how it goes for the Padres. Last night, the 'pen was lights out, as four San Diego relievers combined to hold the Mets scoreless over the final four and two-thirds innings.

By the way, two of those relievers were former Mets Duaner Sanchez and Heath Bell. Sanchez pitched a perfect eighth, while Bell had a one-two-three ninth for the save. Duaner was awesome for the Mets in the first half of the 2006 season before getting in a taxi cab accident that kept him out for the rest of that season and all of 2007.

It's crazy to think about what this franchise would be like had that accident not occurred—a better bullpen would've prevented the Mets from missing the postseason the last two seasons, but they never would've gotten Oliver Perez.

The fact is, the injury did happen and Duaner was never the same. He lost a significant amount of velocity on his fastball, and his control didn't seem to be as good either. There were reports that he didn't really work too hard on rehabbing his injured arm, which made it even easier to boo him as he, and the rest of the Mets bullpen, imploded last season. But he helped turn the Mets back into serious contenders during that terrific '06 season, so it's hard not to wish him well.

The same goes for Heath Bell, who always had to pack lightly during his travels with the Mets, as he was optioned to and from Norfolk (the Mets' Triple-A affiliate at the time) seemingly every other series. Between 2004-2006, he was always the guy who got called up when a player got hurt, and always the guy who got sent down once that player returned. He could never get settled, and I felt bad for him.

I do remember watching a day game against the Cubs during a very cold, windy day in Chicago (what else is new?) when the announcers were saying there was no way a home run could be hit to center field. The wind was simply too strong. But somehow, someway, Bell managed to give up a walk-off homer to Derrek Lee, who crushed a fastball over the center field wall.

(Well, I couldn't help myself, and with the glorious tool that is the Internet, I was able to find this game in about 30 seconds: Here's proof.)

I never really forgave Bell after that, but like Duaner, I now wish him nothing but success with his new team. Of course, I was booing them both like crazy last night and desperately wanted at least one of them to blow the game.

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