Neither the world nor the season ended just because the Mets forgot that they never lose on Opening Day/Night. Still, the whole John Fogerty “beat the drum, hold the phone, the sun came out today” sensation usually associated with the first game of the year grew rather hollow once I realized what I was waiting for ever since last October 3 turned into Marlins 6 Mets 2, with Mike Pelfrey surrendering a 2010-style grand slam to John Buck while Josh Johnson was loosening up with six innings of highly effective long-tossing.
By the seventh, we were down to Mets By The Numbers rediscovery Duke of Iron beseeching the gods to give us a hit. Good god did we want a hit. Good god did we not want to get no-hit on Opening Night. Our sense of humor is only so nuanced. Willie Harris became the gods’ vessel for letting us off the hook by delivering us from purgatory with a line drive hustle double. From there, the Mets’ single inning of fighting back pumped much-needed air into my deflated inner tube of rooting. Alas, with a chance to turn a two-run rally into something extraordinary, Scott Hairston appeared as anxious as any impatient, insecure Mets fan. “We can’t go 0-1! I have to swing as hard as I can!” I’m sorry Hairston didn’t connect but I’m glad he appeared to care that much.
Though most of the Mets were distressingly ineffectual on their first night of their latest new era, we can take away a few positives: Pedro Beato was not bad; Brad Emaus was quite professional; Harris proved a nice addition (as a second-place hitter, no less); Terry Collins’s eyes remained fixed in his sockets despite having to discuss the disappointing result immediately thereafter; and look at Carlos Beltran — he can be, so it seems, right field.
Biggest positive: There will be a win, maybe as soon as tonight. There may even be a second win at some point. Keep beating the drum, keep your phone on vibrate and check out how sunny it is today. One-hundred sixty-one games remain.