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NY Mets: World Series-bound in 2008

Tae Andrews | Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hope springs eternal every February and March, and for the New York Mets, it couldn’t come soon enough this year after the disastrous end to last year’s season. In the wake of last season’s September debacle, in which the Metropolitans imploded like a dying dwarf star, the future once again looks bright for the star-studded team.

The names of the boys in orange and blue go something like this: Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright and Moises Alou.

And, after a Feb. 1 trade-and-sign with the Minnesota Twins, we got Santana. As in, Johan Santana, the Venezualan southpaw and strikeout machine good for over 200 plus strikeouts per season.

As a friend of mine likes to say, the team is stacked like blueberry pancakes.

After the trade, my Facebook wall filled with comments about the deal, including one from a grieving Twins fan saying, “Have fun with Santana.” I feel for your loss, my friend (competitive balance in MLB is a joke), but I will.

Santana turns 29 on March 13. He’s still entering his prime. Pairing Santana with Martinez at the top of the rotation is like landing pocket rockets. Let’s just hope the team doesn’t flop like last season, when they blew a seven-game lead with a mere 17 games left, a collapse of epic proportions. Looking at the roster, the Mets are at least paper champions: with Santana, Martinez and Maine holding down the top spots, the rotation looks to be strong, with the aging and somewhat injury-prone Martinez the sole spot of concern, although he looks fully recovered from the torn rotator cuff injury which sidelined him for most of the 2007 campaign.

And with our vaunted slate of sluggers (Beltran, Delgado, Alou), there’s no excuse for anything less than a trip to the World Series. We’ve also got young talent such as David “Mr.” Wright, who has stolen the hearts of females everywhere throughout the tri-city area with his boyish good looks and Jose Reyes, who has stolen bases galore (78 swipes last season) and the hearts of fantasy baseball team owners across the nation. He’s also good for about a million goofy Soulja Boy-esque celebration dances in and around the dugout steps.

What makes the Santana acquisition even sweeter is that we (and I say “we” because I am actually a part of the team, not just a mere fan) managed to pick up our ace by beating the Yankees at their own game. In off-seasons past, our cross-town and pinstriped rivals often stole the show by making splashy signings during the winter months, including sluggers Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez. Contestants in this past off-season’s Santana sweepstakes included both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, two other high-spending teams. Mets owner Fred Wilpon has put his money where his mouth is, opening up the coffers so that general manager Omar Minaya could put together a championship-caliber ball club.

Barring injury (that terrible force of darkness which snatches seasons away like thieves in the night) there are no more excuses for anything less than greatness. Beyond just the Santana deal and our loaded lineup, Mets fans had the pleasure of watching that dirty cheating scoundrel Roger Clemens publicly embarrass himself with his far-fetched tales of suspicious syringes and wayward injections of B12.

Now that Congress has launched a federal investigation of Roger Clemens for perjury (serves him right for tossing beanballs and broken bats at Mets hero and the greatest hitting catcher of all time, Mike Piazza), life is good for Mets fans right now. Let’s hope that doesn’t change after the March 30 spring opener at the Florida Marlins, which incidentally happens to be the club that KO’d the swooning Mets to put them out of their misery and finish their historic meltdown last season. Can you say, “revenge series?”

Contact Tae Andrews at tandrew1@nd.edu

The views expressed in Scene and Heard are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.