Disclaimer: be prepared to spend some time here.
Apr. 5, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; A general view as members of the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves line up before the opening day game at Citi Field. Mets win 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Or two weeks later when David Wright homered on his first pitch back from suffering a broken pinky?
In early May, Jordany Valdespin managed to get his first big league hit and bring back nightmares for Jonathan Papelbon in a single swing. Two months later, David Wright ruined another night for Papelbon with a walk-off bloop single.
Mike Nickeas taught us that men with great hair can drop the small ball or launch the big fly. After a recent two-year stretch without a grand slam, 2012 saw several with Ike Davis hitting one against Baltimore and Scott Hairston sending a Casey Coleman slider over the ivy in Chicago. Even Jason Bay got in on the act, finding the only people to buy Marlins tickets in September.
Or just how good Ike Davis was in the last four months of the season, especially in Arizona?
Remember when Matt Harvey struck out the first major league hitter he faced, and followed it up by striking out 11 of the next 22? And a month later, while we were still in awe, Collin McHugh wowed us once again, striking out 9 Rockies in his first taste of the bigs.
R.A. Dickey threw the game of his life on June 13th: a one hit, 12 strikeout shutout of the Tampa Bay Rays. Then he threw the game of his life 5 days later at Citi Field, striking out a career-high 13 Orioles against only a single hit. The summer of Dickey didn’t end there of course, running all the way to 20 wins and a Cy Young award.
Jonathon Niese struck out a career-high 10 batters in early June, one day after Dickey struck out nine in a 7-hit shutout. The day before that, Johan Santana struck out eight (notice a pattern?). That eighth strikeout came on arguably the most iconic pitch thrown in Queens since Jesse Orosco struck out Marty Barrett in 1986. On June 1st, in the franchise’s 8020th game, it has happened. And not without the sacrifices of a certain hometown kid.
June 1, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Mike Baxter (23) makes a diving catch against the left field wall off St. Louis Cardinals catcherYadier Molina
(not pictured) during the seventh inning at Citi Field. Mets won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
June 1, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana (57) reacts after throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field. Mets won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
The Mets probably aren’t going to be as bad as the Post is inevitably going to tell you. No one knows how good they’ll be, it’s not even March. What we do know, however, is that even with a fourth place finish, we can expect to be captivated, to be amazed, to see something unexpected.
Baseball is back. The Mets are back. Win or lose, that’s awesome.