It's finally time for pitchers and catchers, when it's so good to see baseball back that I put aside my grumbling that, as usual, ESPN ranks one New York team #2 and the other New York team #17.
Wait a minute - it's the Mets coming in at #2 while the Yankees are at #17! Play ball!
There's such a buzz around the Mets that Squawker Lisa even waited with me for two hours in 20-degree weather and snow coming down to get vouchers for Met tickets!
Thousands of people came out on a wintry day to get those tickets. And despite long lines and disorganization, people waited patiently in the cold for a chance to see the defending National League champion New York Mets.
Not to be repetitive, but I feel like writing that again: National League defending champion New York Mets!
For much of the postseason, the Mets looked like they would be content with being a small-market team that managed to make the World Series one time. Tampa Bay was the model small-market franchise for awhile, but that one World Series appearance in 2008 seems like a long time ago. Then the Mets found a way to bring Yoenis Cespedes back. Think ESPN would have had the Mets at #2 without Cespedes?
The last time the Mets were good, they choked down the stretch in 2007 and 2008 while the hated Phillies went on to five straight division titles, two pennants, and one championship. Now it's the Mets' current main rival, the Washington Nationals, that have to deal with the "choke: label:
Will new skipper Dusty Baker let the Nationals, um, choke again in 2016?
The Mets have players like Cespedes, who took less money to come back to New York, where he finished 13th in MVP voting despite only being on the Mets for two months. While the Nationals have the player who won the MVP, Bryce Harper, they also still have the teammate who tried to choke Harper in the dugout, Jonathan Papelbon.
Optimism in February for the Mets vs. trying to get excited over signing Alejandro De Aza? Sign me up!