Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004.
Another Opening Day is upon the Mets and their weary fans. Usually, it's a day to celebrate, a day to dream, a day to revel in the possibilities.
For Mets fans, this Opening Day feels different. Not the beginning of something, but the end of something.
The end of their patience with the Sandy Alderson regime.
For two-plus years, Alderson has gotten more mulligans than a Sunday's worth of golfers at Bethpage Black. That's fine. He hasn't had a lot to work with in terms of money or options.
As Newsday's Jim Baumbach reported late last week, the Mets' home-opening sellout streak could end Monday at 14 seasons. Even if it doesn't, it only will be because the Mets moved heaven and Earth with last-minute ticket deals and giveaways to artificially jam Citi Field for one afternoon. Let's see what the ballpark looks like Wednesday night for Game 2.
After Monday, Mets fans will be right if they vote with their apathy. Alderson & Co. have left them only the future to look forward to. The roster Alderson inherited was a toxic wasteland. He has almost cleared it to the point that something good could grow. But not yet.
Not when your Opening Day outfield is Lucas Duda, Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd. A lefty DH and two fourth outfielders. Remember when Alderson said "what outfield?" in the offseason? Not much has changed.
So enjoy your Opening Day, Mets fans. And then take the rest of the spring off -- if we ever actually get spring weather around here -- and early summer, too.
After Monday, unless Matt Harvey is pitching, Mets fans should read a good book and reserve judgment on the Alderson regime until the real Opening Day of this season:
On Aug. 2, the Mets will return from a road trip to host the Kansas City Royals. (It's not the opponent we're talking about, obviously.)
No, Aug. 2 will be the Mets' first home game after the July 31 trade deadline. If Alderson hasn't plucked a few prospects from contending teams in deadline deals, if Zack Wheeler isn't in the rotation and Travis d'Arnaud isn't behind the plate, something will have gone wrong in this latest rebuilding season.
Actually, Thursday's season opener for the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s in Sacramento almost has more importance than Monday's big-league game against the faceless Padres. Sacramento is where top prospects Wheeler and d'Arnaud will be.
Alderson's best move so far was acquiring Wheeler from the Giants in 2011 for Carlos Beltran. Mets fans have to hope Alderson can turn Daniel Murphy or Brandon Lyon or Shaun Marcum or LaTroy Hawkins or John Buck into something similarly appealing in a deadline-day deal this year. It won't be easy.
Aug. 2 will be when you will know if Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada have blossomed into All-Star-type players; if captain David Wright has stayed healthy and productive in the first year of his eight-year, $138-million contract; if Harvey and default Opening Day starter Jon Niese have settled into a nice groove as a 1-2 punch; if Bobby Parnell really can be a closer.
On Sunday, the Mets held a brief workout at Citi Field. Wright was asked what words he would use to describe this year's team.
"Scrappy comes to mind," he said. "You look up and down the roster, you're not going to see a lot of household names. You're not going to see a lot of flash or I guess sexiness, per se."
So that's Alderson's job: To bring sexy back to the Mets. Soon. Even Mets fans won't wait forever.