The Mets ALWAYS win on Opening Day.

It’s only April 1; you can’t tell anything from this.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

After a rousing opener like yesterday’s, these are the hoary bromides that Met fans have to repeat to themselves to keep from getting too giddy. And beyond being an annual cliché, they are pretty much true. It’s the rare year that begins with a Mets loss. In the franchise’s fifty-second season, their record on Opening Day is a gaudy 34-18 – and that includes losing their first eight openers ever. So the team from Flushing has no problem with game number one. It’s the next 161 that usually prove problematical. Aside from the classic reminders from the MSM, most Met fans are well aware of this on their own.

But still…

It’s kind of fun to try and extrapolate and glean something from the lid-lifter. If Jonathon Niese can pitch the whole year like he did: a- the second half of last year, b- all through spring training, c- yesterday, the Mets’ rotation has an anchor. Toss in Matt Harvey’s pyrotechnics – in sharp contrasts to Niese’s diving, dancing deliveries – and staff becomes a two-headed beast, ready to lay waste to the rest of the NL East. Adding Zack Wheeler to this mix – eventually — will make the Mets’ staff the envy of the League, the strongest group this side of the 2011 Phillies. After a rousing opener like yesterday’s, these statements come out as definitive, rather than speculative – Niese WILL continue pitching well, rather than MAY continue.

On the other side of the ball, that laser beam of a grand slam homer off the bat of Collin Cowgill – it was belted so hard off the black back wall in left that it required waiting for umpiric confirmation as Cowgill chugged into third – portends great things from the unknown quantity manning centerfield. Cowgill arrived in Queens with little fanfare, then proceeded to open many eyes during spring training. Naturally, he’ll be the stabilizing force that will turn the Mets’ outfield into an at-least middle of the pack crew, rather than the lost patrol portrayed in the MSM all winter/spring long. His left field mate Lucas Duda will benefit from having a talented hand to his left in the field and in front of him in the lineup; he will escape his crippling self-doubt. Across the field, Marlon Byrd will experience a rebirth and thrive in his new surroundings and provide the steady, veteran leadership – Oh! That word! – for which he was brought here. And just like that, the Mets will have an outfield. Piggy-back that onto “typical” seasons from David Wright, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, surprising offense from Daniel Murphy and John Buck and you have the makings of a special 2013 season. And that’s not even mentioning the eventual appearance of Travis d’Arnaud. If all goes as well as has been detailed above, the Mets are on a pace for a 120-win season.


Most people – including your intrepid columnist — will consider the Mets fortunate if they garner a little more than half that win total. If Niese and Cowgill are the only ones to have breakthrough seasons, that will be enough to carry us excitedly to 2014. If Harvey, Wheeler and d’Arnaud take leaps forward in their respective developments, that will be enough to burnish expectations for 2014. If they all play well as a unit in 2013, that will be enough to establish a base-line for 2014 and beyond. That’s all any fan can ask, given the personnel on hand.

But yesterday was Opening Day, y’know?

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

5 comments on “Jon Niese, Collin Cowgill And Thinking Long Thoughts

  • Frank

    Great read. I’ve always said the last few months matter far more than day one, but it’s nice to see the team everyone counted out have one good day in the sun.

  • Rob Rogan

    Every time I think I’m out, they keep sucking me back in…

  • Joe Vasile

    Great take. I honestly feel as if Cowgill can be something this year, like we may have caught lightning in a bottle with him. He’s a guy who was traded for by both Billy Beane and Sandy Alderson, so there’s something in his skill-set that both of those accomplished GMs liked and wanted. If he can put it together this year, combined with steps forward from Niese, Harvey and the eventual call-ups of Wheeler and d’Arnaud, they could sniff the upper 70’s and make a run at a .500 season. That is if everything goes right, which knowing how things work, it won’t.

  • Brian Joura

    A bunch of two-out RBIs – which was the hallmark of the first-half success last year. Also, we scored 11 runs when Wright and Davis went 1-for-9. Wonder what the Vegas odds on that happening were?

  • […] had more than a few pleasant surprises. On Opening Day, there was Collin Cowgill and his home run hustle, there was Jonathon Niese acting like an ace, there was Scott Rice arriving – finally! – on a […]

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