The New York Mets brought home a win in their first game of the season Monday, but the 7-1 thumping of the Florida Marlins did little to sway fans’ widely varied opinions about the future of the beleaguered team, which finished last season with a 70-92 record.
Nearly every fan in the sold-out stadium could agree it was a beautiful day to kick off the baseball season in Queens in the second year at Citi Field with breezes tempering the mid-70s heat of the afternoon sun.
Westchester County brothers and baseball players Adam, 13, and Jake, 9, Silverman and friend Michael Strumwasser stole some private laughs behind home plate as they enjoyed the opening ceremonies just a few rows back from Mayor Michael Bloomberg while their parents bought snacks.
“Just being here is awesome, seeing the Mets play and Citi Field — it’s all just so much fun,” Adam said.
Darryl Strawberry, the former Met who threw the ceremonial first pitch Monday, said after the toss that he, too, was happy just to be at the game before delving into his analysis of the team’s prospects.
“Opening Day is always special. It’s a good way for the season to get started in the right direction,” he said. “When you start a new year, you don’t have to worry about the past, you get a chance to redeem yourself.”
Despite ace pitcher Johan Santana’s dominating performance and a two-run homer in third-baseman David Wright’s first at-bat of the year, the game may mean little in terms of the team’s hopes this year as the team has now won five openers in a row in seasons that ended disappointingly for Mets lovers.
“It’s always good for the first game to be a win, but it’s still going to be a struggle,” Astoria resident Mark Quiaes said. “The starting pitching is a little iffy, but if they all pitch the way they’re supposed to pitch, we’ll be fine. It’s going to be tough winning the division, but I’m a Mets fan, so I always have high hopes.”
Anthony Hotzglou of Bayside was a little more positive as he explained the reasoning behind his and many other fans’ newfound optimism this year — reasons that extend beyond the fact that Santana’s elbow has healed and it appears Wright’s power hitting might have received a much-needed jolt of energy.
“This year I’m hoping will be a lot better than last year. They have younger players than last year, they’re more energetic, they want it more,” he said.
Mets devotee Joe Kilgus comes from Long Island to attend more than 20 Mets games a year and makes the trek in style in his own “7 train” — a small, old yellow school bus he decked out with orange and blue exterior paint, team flags and even original seats from Shea Stadium to provide the most authentic Mets experience for the eight people he can fit in the gas-powered paean to the love of America’s national pastime.
Parked across from the stadium before the game, grilling sausages and drinking beers with a gaggle of jersey-wearing friends in the parking lot, the 26-year-old was as excited as any of the young children who used their day off from school to see their heroes play.
“Excited isn’t even the word. It’s like Christmas Day, Christmas morning right now,” he gushed.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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