1. Welcome aboard the first active roster of 2019 to the eight Mets who have never been Mets before: Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Wilson Ramos, Keon Broxton, J.D. Davis, Justin Wilson, Luis Avilan and Pete Alonso. We like each of you now because you’re Mets. Someday we’ll recall you with varying degrees of fondness because you were Mets. In between, starting with your first game as a Met, our affinity for you will probably be mostly performance-based. It’s nothing personal. We’re fans, and as we watch your every move, we tend to take our cues from Ike & Tina Turner in “Proud Mary”. We’re nice. And rough. Really we’re nice, even if our sentiments instinctively veer in the other direction when instigated.
2. A special welcome to Alonso, that rare breed of pristine rookie who makes an Opening Day roster. Get that service time going, son. Make it count.
3. Welcome back to Jeurys Familia, due to enjoy one of the shortest absences in Recidivist Met history. Your detour to Oakland last July was barely a semester abroad. We’re touched you missed us enough to want to come home.
4. Welcome back to Juan Lagares, disabled list denizen most of 2018. The DL is now the IL, as in Injured List, but let’s hope you don’t get to compare and contrast. You also have the honor of achieving longest-continuing Met status, having been a big league Met since April of 2013. Familia would have it (he came up in September of 2012), but he took that trip to California. Stay healthy.
5. A slightly surprised welcome back to Tim Peterson, Luis Guillorme and Tomas Nido. You’re not new but you nobody was necessarily counting on seeing you among us on Opening Day. Make hay, fellas. Don’t let ’em send ya to Syracuse if you can help it.
6. A hearty welcome back to Dom Smith, who fell off the face of the depth chart only to bounce back onto the map, the radar and, ultimately, the roster. Baseball-Reference doesn’t list your middle name as Perseverance, but maybe it should.
7. Welcome back from Syracuse, Noah Syndergaard. Those couple of hours weren’t so bad, were they? Yeah, it was silly to drag you and your teammates across the state of Florida, then way out of the way of Washington just to show your faces to aficionados of our new affiliate, but you being you made the most of it, running around the Carrier Dome with the big S flag and all. Keep being you, especially when pitching.
8. Welcome back to the rest of the starting rotation: Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz and Jason Vargas. You first three along with Noah used to be our unit of young and up-and-coming pitchers. Now you’re all basically veterans. None of you is old in the human sense (not even Vargas, who turned 36 in February), but you’re all eligible to pitch crafty when called for.
9. An unlikely inaugural welcome to the mound on Opening Day to deGrom, who has surely signed the largest contract extension ever for a player at any position who has never started on Opening Day. Something was always getting in the way of your taking the ball first. Nothing’s gonna stop you now.
10. Welcome to your first Opening Day outfield start, Michael Conforto. Crazy, huh? But after DH’ing in Kansas City in 2016, you were squeezed out in 2017 and not done rehabbing in 2018. May March be the first of many of your kind of months.
11. Welcome, though not back, to Brandon Nimmo and Amed Rosario, the only two Mets to start on Opening Day in 2018 who are starting on Opening Day in 2019. Your survival skills are admirable.
12. An extra lack of welcome back to Rosario, who is so skilled at not going anywhere that he enters 2019 as the Met who has been on the active roster longest without interruption. You came up at the beginning of August 2017 and haven’t had to step away for any reason whatsoever. We trust it’s all part of your establishing yourself as not only a constant but a force. We remember you were practically baseball’s top prospect when you joined us. We will be ready, not surprised, as you ascend further.
13. Welcome back to the other two Mets who stayed healthy and occupied all of 2018 and return to us in 2019, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. Seems you gents have been a matched set ever since we found you on our pitching staff’s doorstep in the summer of 2016, which is suddenly a few years ago. You helped us win a Wild Card. Help us win some more, will ya?
14. Welcome to third base, Jeff McNeil. It’s not your first time at the hot corner (we love calling it that), but four appearances and one start there in 2018 was barely an audition. You didn’t play the outfield for the Mets, yet they were prepared to stick you there. This makes better sense if they we’re gonna move you off second, which they had to in deference to Cano. If you need advice regarding the position, call upstairs to special advisor David Wright. He knows a few things.
15. Welcome to your single-digit number, 6, while we’re at it, Jeff. When you got here and they gave you 68, there was requisite groaning since 68 used to be considered anonymous Spring Training fodder. Yet I came to enjoy seeing it on you, partly because you’d have made any number look sleek the way you were hitting, partly because it allowed me to think of my high school obsession with The Uncle Floyd Show, which aired through the UHF snow on Channel 68. You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure, but it gave me a little kick. Anyway, 6 is crying out for distinction. May you be Mora, Wally and Weis in it.
16. Grudging welcome to the recirculation of uniform No. 24, via the jersey Cano will wear. Grrr… All right, got that out of my system. Mostly. Refreshed in early Spring, you said you felt 25. So why didn’t ya take that number? I know, you have a sincere and respectful reason that has nothing to do with treading on Willie Mays’s New York National League legacy, and I appreciate your appreciation of 24 as a stand-in for Jackie Robinson’s 42. But it’s not that. It’s 24. Would have been nice if you or somebody who handed it to you in Flushing had acknowledged its specific significance within the Met narrative the way Rickey Henderson did when he borrowed it for a couple of years. Oh well. It’s yours here now. Make it sing.
17. Get well and welcomed back soon to Todd Frazier, Jed Lowrie, Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes, each of you due to return to Metsdom sometime after Opening Day. In Cespedes’s case, a long time. In the others, you’ll let us know when you can.
18. Get well and see you next year to Tommy John patient Drew Smith, one of the more promising in the parade of young, righty relievers who soaked up innings in 2018.
19. Good luck wherever you wind up, T.J. Rivera, whose initials are overly indicative of his fate. You were released this month after not recovering swiftly enough from Tommy John surgery in 2017. You’re an infielder. Smith is a pitcher. D’Arnaud is a catcher. You’ve all had the Tommy John bug. None of you is with the Mets at Nationals Park at this moment, but Travis and Drew are at least still in the organization. You were a big part of the Wild Card surge of 2016 and figured to be a key bat for us for a while. I hope you’re swinging it soon for somebody.
20. Good luck, Devin Mesoraco, Cy Young catcher of 2018, but unfortunately award-winning batteries don’t stay inextricably linked season to season. DeGrom thrived throwing to you, so much that you guys could have become known as deGroco (The 7 Line could’ve made t-shirts). Alas, depth charts are prone to shuffling and instead of handling Jake this afternoon, you’re en route to the restricted list. Sorry the front office apparently screwed you out of landing somewhere else.
21. Conditional welcome backs — or welcomes back — to a whole batch of prospective Recidivist Mets who, unlike Familia, aren’t on the Opening Day roster, but did quietly slip back into the organizational fold. Dilson Herrera, onetime second baseman of the future, is a 315 area code phone call away in Syracuse. So is René Rivera, Syndergaard’s version of Mesoraco. Ruben Tejada is sharpening his skill sets anew in Extended Spring Training (and presumably sticking pins deep into his Chase Utley doll). Carlos Gomez finally got his work visa approved and maybe we’ll see him for real at some point (he’s been a mirage in the past). Travis Taijeron was signed to a minor league contract as well. You might remember him from such 2017 reactions as “Who the hell is Travis Taijeron?” and “Hey, Travis Taijeron can hit a little.” Should any of you be Mets again, I stand ready to remind the world of your Met priors.
22. A post-Spring “hey” to Rajai Davis, Ryan O’Rourke, Hector Santiago, Danny Espinosa, Gregor Blanco and Adeiny Hechavarria, all major leaguers previously elsewhere and maybe again with us in 2019 after wearing our colors in St. Lucie. We hope nobody gets hurt to facilitate your promotion to the Mets. We wish you succeed so mightily in the minors that you’re desperately wanted.
23. Letting you know, Gavin Cecchini, that we remember you, too. Being a first-round draft choice of the Mets in this decade hasn’t been the E-ZPass to prominence a person so chosen might have assumed.
24. All you minor leaguers, from the prospects we’ll eventually salivate to see, to the unknowns who will stealthily introduce themselves to us, to the erstwhile coffee-cuppers who strive for another pour, to that former quarterback who decided baseball beats every other sporting endeavor under the sun…hang with ’em, guys.
25. Welcome back, baseball team of ours. We look forward to spending the next seven months with you. That’s right, I said seven.