Probably more so than any other, the time I look most forward to each and every year is Spring Training. In theory, Spring Training is supposed to be a time of optimism, hope and joy. Players, coaches and fans have all had weeks and weeks to recover from the previous season and charge their batteries for another slew of 162 games, if not more. Having said that, sitting here with a little over a week to go until opening day, I can't honestly say that I have been enjoying Spring Training or that I am even truly looking forward to opening day. Between the Madoff trial, the losses of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran and Bobby Bonilla, I have never had a more negative attitude regarding the New York Mets. I think the team is quite frankly awful and I don't see any way they can possibly compete in the National League East this season, even with the addition of a second wild card team.
All teams have bad stretches. That's simply a fact in professional sports -- that there are going to be times where your favorite team will not perform at the optimal level. But this is getting ridiculous. On Saturday, Mike Pelfrey gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings, lowering his Grapefruit League earned runs average to 11.49. Now, I'm not sure what's more absurd. The fact that one of our theoretically top starting pitchers has an earned run average with double digits? Or that Terry Collins said following the game, "I thought he was much, much better. His ball had great life to it. I think he moved forward a long way." To be fair, Pelfrey gave up eight runs in 2 2/3 innings last week, where following the game he said, "I actually think the ball came out my hand the best it has all spring."
The bottom line is that I am very nervous for this team and this season. The injuries are a never-ending list and the player who I seem to have the most hope for is coming off shoulder surgery, which has kept him off a mound dating back to September of 2010. And while I would like to say that I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, the reality is that I really can't see what direction this team is heading. Are they in -- dare I say it -- rebuilding mode? Are we really solely banking on Zack Wheeler to bring this team back to its winning ways? Or maybe the recent outcomes of the Bernie Madoff lawsuit has given the Wilpons and the front office a little more hope in terms of its financial future, allowing them to potentially acquire more substantial players.
There is no question that I have faith in Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, but I'm still waiting for results, and I haven't seen them. I'm waiting to see the day where I can say that the Mets are heading on a clear path again, but I'm getting impatient. While I'll be there, as I am every year, rooting for my team on opening day, I have a feeling that this is going to be a long season for Metropolitan baseball.
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