First published on Blogcritics
In the alternate universe I sometimes imagine, Johan Santana has won 20 games every season for the New York Mets, Jason Bay has hit 35 homers a year, and Jose Reyes is still flashing his infectious smile at shortstop. This is the same universe where Carlos Beltran belted a homer off Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals instead of looking at a called strike three to end game seven of the NCLS in 2006. Of course, a World Series Championship followed. Ah, that universe is a grand place to be.
Stepping back through the portal to this time and place, Santana is a rehabbed former Mets ace who now doesn't scratch his nose without Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen running over with the first aid kit. However, Santana has shown great progress coming back from his shoulder surgery, and now a report in the NY Daily News indicates that manager Terry Collins thinks that Santana will be ready to pitch against the Atlanta Braves on April 5, 2012, at Citi Field.
We Mets fans are hungry for good news. Is Ike Davis going to be okay? Will Daniel Murphy be able to come back and hit like that again and learn to really play second base? Can 21 year old Reuben Tejada master shortstop, filling in the awfully big shoes of Reyes as a hitter and fielder? Will David Wright bounce back? Will Jason Bay remember how to hit the way he used to in Boston? Will Mr. Met get a new look, replacing the eternal smile with a resolved grimace?
Collins is an honest guy - we all learned that last year - and he is not one to play games with the press and the fans. He calls it like it is and this is admirable to say the least. Sometimes when he is speaking, I can picture GM Sandy Alderson standing in the shadows getting a little nervous, but Sandy should remember not to hide from the truth. His predecessor Omar Minaya did and it led to his downfall. Remember Sandy, the truth can only set you free.
For now Mets fans are allowed to dream a little. We can see a photo of Santana throwing the ball and be hopeful. We have to be because otherwise the season is over before it even starts. Collins says he admires Santana's work ethic, and he believes in Warthen to the point of getting the ace ready on time and in one piece. That, for now, Mets fans, is something to make us smile.
So let us move forward and watch with hope as this team begins spring training. If things get bad before April 5, we always have that alternate universe to revisit; however, the problem is that its only a temporary place to stay and then we have to come back to reality, one that has been a tough place to be for Mets fans since September 2006.
Photo Credit - NY Daily News