Opening Day is wonderful. Your team plays, the fans cheer. If you lose, what the heck — it sure is nice to have baseball back. If you win, you feel like there’s no way you’ll ever see another loss. Look at that! Did you see what we did to those guys? 162-0, baby! This is the beginning of something beautiful!
The Day After Opening Day is often different. Lose that one , and suddenly you realize you’re in for the long haul. Huh. That stank. We’re a .500 club. This could be more difficult than I thought.
And when the Day After Opening Day sees a beloved icon go down with a hamstring problem, and then declare on his way to New York for an MRI that he heard a “pop” before limping off the field, you realize that long haul could be a lot more difficult than you thought.
Pedro had had such a good spring. I know. I also know, as we all do, that such a good spring means nothing. Just as such a terrible spring means nothing. But a pop in the hamstring of an aging starting pitcher means quite a bit. It means … well, we’ll start to know soon enough, but it probably means no Pedro J. until May. And it certainly means that all of our attempts to tell ourselves that the Mets’ problems with age and infirmity were overblown lasted exactly 12 1/3 innings. Less than that if you count Alou’s groin and El Duque’s foot and Castillo’s knees and Beltran’s knees and Wagner’s back and Delgado’s hip. Which we weren’t doing yesterday, because it was Opening Day and we won and we were glorious.
Did I mention it’s not Opening Day anymore?
Matt Wise may or may not throw more meatballs to indifferently skilled hitters. Ryan Church may or may not give away more at-bats by pressing against relievers who’d shown themselves constitutionally unable to start every hitter with anything other than a 3-0 count. We don’t know either way and have no particular portents to sort through in deciding. But aches and pains and creaks and pops and strains and pulls and the clawmarks of Father Time? We had plenty of warnings about those even before we got another.