The New York Mets have a 34-18 record on Opening Day, good for a .654 winning percentage, the best in baseball. The rest of the time, the Mets have a .477 winning percentage.
On Opening Day, the Mets play like the 1928 Yankees. In the other 161 games, they look like, well, the Mets.
The Mets won their opener again today, beating the Padres 11-2 in front of a “sell-out” crowd. (This had to be an April Fools joke. Citi Field was sold out on Monday in the same way that this website is the most popular on the internet: it comes close, but needs thousands more people to visit for it to be true.) Sitting atop the division for at least one game is one of the few joys of being a Mets fan.
I was at the game today, just as I was last year. As I wrote in that story, the Mets’ openers tend to be the perfect remedy for offseason concerns. This winter all the talk was about the outfield, to the point that G.M. Sandy Alderson took the stand-up comic approach. When asked about the situation in November, Alderson said, “Outfield? What outfield? We’re probably going to have to bring the fences in another 150 feet!” More recently, in light of the Manti Te’o hoax, he said, “I want you to know that I’m in serious discussions with several outfielders I met on the internet…There’s one I really like. He says he played at Stanford.”
And then Alderson signed Marlon Byrd and traded for Collin Cowgill. Ha ha.
On Monday, Byrd and Cowgill, two outfield starters, combined to go 4-for-10 with six RBI. Cowgill became the second Mets player to hit a grand slam on Opening Day. New catcher John Buck went 2-for-4 and three new relievers combined to throw 2.1 perfect innings. Making the G.M. look like a genius, at least for one day, is a Mets tradition.
It’s almost impossible to remember it is just one game. You think there is an overreaction to small sample sizes in other sports? Baseball fans are the worst offenders. Drawing conclusions about a baseball team after one game is the equivalent to doing the same for an NBA team at halftime of their opener or judging an NFL team with six minutes left in the first quarter of Week 1.
Opening on April 1 is fitting for the Mets. They’ll fool you into believing they’re a contender at the start of every season, but haven’t played a meaningful September since 2008. But…Jon Niese looked sharp and the Mets are tied for first. It doesn’t hurt that the Yankees lost.
Baseball is back. I’ll take the hot dogs and green grass—even the slow hand of Tim McClelland—knowing the other 161 won’t go as smoothly.