The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE
It's not easy to be a Mets fan right now, but glory will be that much sweeter for the pain.
How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! ~John Muir
I have a cold right now. I'm about ten days in, too. Just one of those lingering colds that's continued to keep me in a funk as I tear through box after box of tissues. It's okay, I'll be done with it soon.
My friends in Jersey City have it worse than I do. Their street is having a harder time getting power than many, and though the city is now slowly turning the lights back on, they're hoping to do the same by next week some time. The flood waters stopped a foot short of their doorstep, but they lost belongings to the gasoline-and-oil-and-sea-water combination that destroyed the basement. Gas might come on today, they hope. I've been reduced to cheer-leading and donating, but it's okay, they'll be done with it soon.
Many have lost their homes around the tri-state area. Now the snow is threatening to combine with power outages to add to our losses. You can't say 'it's okay' to those that have lost homes and loved ones, but you can say that there will be a tomorrow. There will be better days.
Set against this backdrop, the Mets are only my common cold. They're producing aches and pains right now -- Lucas Duda, one of the few outfielders on the Mets roster that has power upside with the bat, just broke his wrist moving furniture, the budget looks like it might produce a Scott Hairston and Bobby Jenks signing at best, and the Nationals and Braves look like they have competitive, young, sustainable rosters in place. The Mets have settled into another valley and are once again the butt of jokes. Pity is in the eyes of their competitors. Blood is in the financial water.
It doesn't look good.
But the cliche is true: No pain, no gain. The No Fear shirts may sound silly and trite, but two-plus years in California have taught me this: when 60 degrees becomes a cold day, you don't get as much energy out of a sunny day. And right now is a Mets' fan's Nor'easter Moment, which is dovetailing with the weather outside.
You know that first spring day when everyone gets exuberant and wears a touch less clothing than they should? When everyone smiles through their commute, Hell's Kitchen's sidewalk bars are teeming with noise, and Sheep's Meadow is the hoppingest party in town? That first day when you don't need to spend a half hour putting weather gear on the kids before you can leave the house? The first game of catch, the the first pickup outdoor ball, that first warm game? The glorious greeting of the sun on the mountains?
That day is coming.
You can actually see it on the roster now. Matt Harvey blows guys away and has the slider and curve to be a complete pitcher even in the face of inconsistent control. Zack Wheeler is coming with his own devastating stuff and iffy control. Jonathon Niese can play the role of a number three in a strong staff -- cutting and curving his way to better than league-average numbers no matter his batted ball luck. Johan Santana might have just enough in him to bring something useful back, or contribute in a year where everything breaks right. Dillon Gee can fill out some innings without embarrassing anyone.
The secondary group of pitching prospects may not excite national rankings systems, but there's talent there. Even with their flaws, pitchers like Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia could be great relievers if they don't make it as starters. And while the bullpen looks bad now, building up starting rotation prospect depth eventually turns into a strong bullpen. Just look at all the former, failed starters that are bullpen aces across the league.
The offense is hurting right now, and the major-league-ready prospects have their flaws. Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (and maybe even Lucas Duda) might only be bench pieces on a first-division team. But the positional prospects in St. Lucie are starting to show promise. Brandon Nimmo still looks good. Wilmer Flores will eventually find a position, and he can hit.
The point is, you can see the sun through the clouds. The rotation is already a strength, and the farm system is improving. Team financials -- and therefore ownership -- cannot stay in limbo forever. And when the Mets start winning, it will be the first day of good weather. Other teams in similar situations but with longer track records of winning might look outside and say, eh, it's only 65, and go back inside.
Mets' fans? We'll be outside in tanktops playing handball, throwing a ball around, sitting, reading -- doing anything we can to remain in the sun.