It’s a New Year, and more importantly, pitchers and catchers report in less than seven weeks, so I’ve decided to emerge from hibernation, albeit briefly, to reveal my hopes and wishes for the 2011 season. These are not borne from animosity, envy or ill-will, so I’ll refrain from things like “May A-Rod get dumped by Cameron and sulk through the entire season while hitting .240″ or “Cliff Lee feels this weird twinge in his shoulder in early May and has to shut it down by August.” It would be cruel to harbor such cold thoughts and besides, I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to be a kindler, gentler fan. How I can accomplish that while rooting for the Mets is the great paradox staring me in the face. And he is one ugly paradox, I must tell you.
So with a gentle touch and not too much bile coursing through my veins, here’s what I’d like to see carom Off the Foul Pole in the coming season:
— The Mets, who have spent about $32 in the off-season on the likes of D.J. Carrasco, Ronny Paulino and some infielder from the Dodgers I never heard of, are playing meaningful games — at least until August 1. That may be asking a lot as I know and trust that Sandy Alderson and crew will be busy, first and foremost, shoring up the Amazin’s sorry farm system, but consider this: if Santana can come back strong by June 1, and Beltran has a big walk year, and Bey is fully recovered from his jittery nerves and shattering concussion, and K-Rod stays out of trouble (on and off the field), and Reyes stays healthy and focused, and Ike Davis blossoms into an All-Star, and. . .oh what’s the use?
— The Commissioner stops talking about adding another Wild Card in each league. The post-season is fine the way it is. Except for the TV ratings. Regardless, don’t mess with it, Bud.
— Less no-hitters and near n0-hitters. Let’s start hitting again. I’m not saying they should stop testing for you-know-what, but more offense would be preferable. At least in the regular season. In the playoffs, I love 1-0 pitchers duels. Seriously. Now Roy Halliday can pitch all the no-hitters he’d like; anyone who tosses a perfect game in the regular season and then a no-hitter in the post-season is exempt from my growing contempt for “gems”like the Edwin Jackson variety. Of course, I’ll give Armando Gallaraga a pass also. I hope he gets his perfect game this year. Just make sure Jim Joyce is not around when he’s pitching.
— The McCourts finish taking care of their very ugly, very public steel cage match and sell the team. The Dodgers and the city of LA deserve better. Much better.
— Now that Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox have retired, the Braves become somewhat likeable. Even to their own fans.
— Bert Blyleven is voted into the Hall. The only thing holding him back are those 13 wins shy of 300. He would have had those in one season if he played on more winning teams.
— The Rangers remain one of the AL powers. For one reason, I always root for Nolan Ryan. And secondly, I’d hate to think every team’s fortune rides on Cliff Lee.
— The Pirates finally have a winning season so we can stop hearing about their string of 18 straight losing seasons. And we can finally believe it when they say they are building toward the future. Even if the future means nothing more than winning 82 games in 2011.
— I finally spring for that Mickey Mantle rookie card. It’s that or a Rolex. Hmm, let me think about this one.