What an afternoon. The Pope is dead and, previously unbeknownst to me, the Scottish have their own parade (there aren't a lot of people attending but those present are psychotically dedicated--it's a monsoon outside, on West 52nd Street, and the tartan-clad masses aren't going anywhere). But as I look down from the Zisk offices, I'm thinking of tomorrow night, when the Sox and Yankees kick off the '05 season, and Monday, when Pedro makes his Mets debut.
I'm excited about the Mets in '05, not because I expect them to win more than 75-80 games, but because I'm hoping there's a healthy dose of entertainment mixed in with this year's mediocrity, something other than the tired phrase "in the hunt for 3rd place" to keep the Mets masses tuned into our beloved boys in white (or blue or black or orange or green or mauve, it all depends upon that game's promotional tie-in). First of all, the Mets have two first name-only players in Pedro and Carlos, and, love 'em or leave 'em, players who can go by their first names are going to provide headlines. Think of the Babe. Think of Ichiro. Think of the Red Sox when they had Nomar, Manny, and Pedro--"I'm talking to the press"; "I'm not talking to the press"; "The press is misinterpreting what I say"; "The press is misinterpreting my silence." Easy fodder for the backpages. Good times.
The Mets of '04 were unsuccessful and dull, devoid of first name players, so new general manager Omar Minaya signed a pair of his own. Recognizing the rule of threes, Minaya sought a third personality to join Pedro and Carlos, but Carlos II (aka Delgado) opted for the Marlins. (I wouldn't argue that Delgado is a first name guy, but in the New York spotlight he had potential.) The 2005 Mets have promise, but there's work to be done. As evidence I offer the gallons of ink spilled on Kris Benson's wife. If the Mets had anything else to offer in terms of entertainment value, then we'd never hear about the wife of one of their number four starters. (The Mets are a haven for guys who would be number four or five starters for other teams--Kaz Ishii, Victor Zambrano, Steve Trachsel, Tom Glavine; everyone but Pedro. And speaking of Pedro--much as I love his potential to say foolish things and give us ample reason to say, "Oh, that Pedro!" a lot--is he really that much better than Al Leiter? Didn't the Mets merely trade one very reliable, six-inning starter for another very reliable six-inning starter?) They tried to push Piazza's wedding like it was news, but both days that tidbit made the papers it seemed tainted with, "See, we told you he's not gay." (Though I have no proof that said coverage was laced with homophobia, just a hunch.)
So I'm hoping that Pedro gets to shake his fist at Yankee fans and take down more AARP members, that Carlos has a chance to repeat his post-season heroics, and that Omar gets to ink his third marquee player. I'm hoping that out at Shea, like at the Vatican, it's time to usher in a new era.