By Lenn Robbins
We’re still smack in the dead of another bizarrely warm winter and with the way things are going we certainly could see snow on March 26, when the Mets host the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals.
It’s at this time of the year that the Gregorian calendar goes out the winter. The Mets held first full team workout today. Spring feels a little closer.
If you’re a Mets fan, you can’t help yourself. It’s in your DNA.
Despite all the ridiculous chapters in Mets history, even recently: Yoenis Cepesdes breaks his ankle in a tangle with a wild boar; the sale of the team is deep-sixed at almost the 11th hour – again; Carlos Beltran doesn’t get to manage even one spring training game – Mets fans believe that this will be the year.
The feeling here is that this emotional state of being, call it the Miracle Syndrome, began in 1969, the greatest year in Mets history and one of the most amazin runs in sports history.
You know the story. You witnessed it yourself or heard it from your father or grandfather or uncle.
The Mets, who began their residence in Queens by losing 120 games, were nine and one-half games behind the Cubs in mid-August.
The rest is mystery.
Behind one of the great pitching staffs in baseball history the Mets overtook the Cubs and upset the mighty Orioles in the World Series.
There was no time to prepare for such exuberance. Teachers stopped classes and put radios on their desks for all to listen to playoff games. A city riddled with crime and graffiti needed a salve if not a savior, the Amazin Mets came through.
No wonder that no matter the number of broken dreams and tear-stained jerseys, Mets fans remain more exuberant than a rooster in a henhouse.
Which brings us to 2020, 51 years after the Miracle Mets. As was the case in 1969, when the Mets actually finished the previous season with some success, the 2020 Mets were in the 2019 playoff hunt until the final weeks.
As was the case in 1969, the Mets have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndegaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha offer dominance and depth.
The bullpen hopefully has been bolstered. Seth Lugo is proven. Robert Gsellman can swing from starter to pen. The acquisition of Dellin Betances could help. Edwin Diaz can’t be any worse.
There are questions, of course, as is the case with most teams at this time of the season:
Luis Rojas seems universally liked in the organization and there’s no doubt he knows the game, but he’s never managed before and he never played in the Majors.
Pete Alonso can own this town by notching another 40-plus home run season but opposing pitchers have had an entire winter to study him.
Were the Mets the team we saw in the first half of the season or the second?
“We agreed on the things we need to do in order to get the edge that we need, as far as being successful this year and to achieve our goal — which is winning,” Rojas told reporters about his message to the team. “We have a lot of competition out there and this is where it starts.”
Yes, this is where it starts every spring for the Mets and their fans. They need the slightest of reasons to believe. This team provides many. Which means it also provides the perfect setup for more broken dreams and tear-stained jerseys.