Spring has always symbolized renewal, but this year has a special significance. After a year of being kept virtually hostage by the COVID-19 pandemic, the chains are finally beginning to loosen. There are going to be fans in the stands on Opening Day, and I'd be shocked if there weren't full ballparks at some point this summer. The players will be able to give each other high fives and mob each other after walk-off wins without raising eyebrows. Maybe we can retire the phrases covid protocols and out of an abundance of caution for a while. I know that I'm tired of hearing both of them.
Yesterday I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine. It wasn't easy. Although I'm 62 and a Type 2 Diabetic, I had to navigate through a confusing website with everyone else over the age of 55. I had to drive 25 miles from my house because it seemed worth it to get the vaccine 3 weeks earlier. My cousin and her boyfriend both came down with COVID-19 this week after spending a year doing all the things they were supposed to do to stay safe. They're okay but not out of the wood yet. As Yogi said, it's not over until it's over. If you're eligible, get the vaccine.
I guess I won't be considered fully immunized until two weeks after my second dose, which is scheduled for April 16. By the beginning of May, I could potentially go to a ballgame again if I'm able to get my grubby little hands on a ticket. Even now, I'm somewhat protected and not so much at the mercy of how seriously the people in front of me in the checkout line at the supermarket have taken the pandemic. I make a point of not allowing myself to live in fear, but it will surely be easier when this whole nightmare is over.
Speaking of nightmares being over, I've pinched myself several times today to convince myself that I am really living in a world where the Wilpons no longer own the Mets. It's just another reason why this year seems a little more special than most of them. I think it's fairly safe to say that if they were still in charge and the team had lost both their most dependable reliever and number 2 starter for a couple of months, I'd be wondering whether my team would be hopelessly out of it before spring turned into summer. Now, I don't feel good about extended absences for Carlos Carrasco and Seth Lugo, but they seem more survivable this season.
As I mentioned Thursday, it's been a bit of a tough week for me. It forced me to step back from writing for a few days, but I plan to get back to producing content as close to daily as time and my situation allow. I have to get an MRI Monday, and they'll have to load me up with Xanax to overcome my dreadful claustrophobia. Depending on how fast the brain clouds dissipate will dictate whether I post on that day.
I plan to do some sort of preview for the season, although I'll probably shy away from specific predictions. I don't pretend to know exactly how players on the Mets will perform, much less other teams. I'd rather write about what I'm optimistic about and what makes me worry. Want a preview?
My sunny side of the street, in no particular order:
- Jacob deGrom continuing to be Jacob deGrom
- Marcus Stroman having a good year
- Pete Alonso partying like it's 2019
- Kevin Pillar being a valuable contributor
- Noah Syndergaard coming back in June and pitching well
- Luis Guillorme contributing with both the bat and glove
- Francisco Lindor spending the whole year smiling
- Taijuan Walker having a solid season
- At least one of the trio of David Peterson, Jordan Yamamoto, and Joey Lucchesi establishing themselves as part of the Mets future
- Miguel Castro turning into a trusted late-inning guy, joining Aaron Loup and Trevor May
- Edwin Díaz still closing games in September
Now, I'm not saying I feel completely optimistic about all of the above. My optimism runs the gamut from downright giddy (deGrom) to guardedly quite hopeful (Díaz).
What still keeps me up at night:
I wish Carrasco and Lugo were going to be breaking camp with the club. No one should try to gloss over how tough it is to lose your most dependable reliever and your projected number 2 starter. I certainly won't do that. But those losses would have essentially buried the club in previous years. It's hard not to feel at least a bit sanguine about our chances of overcoming them this season. It will help if no one else significant gets hurt for a while, at least until one of them makes it back. Fingers and toes crossed.
I'm out for today. Enjoy the rest of the first day of spring, wherever you are. I hope you can make it back here tomorrow. In the meantime, please stay safe, be well and take care.
Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos.