David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
JUPITER, Fla. - The Mets really blew it with Monday's announcement that Bartolo Colon will be the Opening Day starter against the Nationals in Washington on April 6.
No, not the fact that it's Colon.
Seriously, who cares about that?
Our objection is with the way this thing was handled. You got a TV network, right? Line up all five starters, sit 'em down in the conference room, make it a half-hour special.
Start by unveiling the No. 5, mix in a few commercial breaks and go right up the rotation. It could be an annual event -- Selection Monday.
Instead, we had Terry Collins crammed against a clubhouse door, fielding questions about Wilmer Flores' bruised foot after a 12-3 win over the Marlins. Then, with zero fanfare, he told us the 41-year-old Colon will get Opening Day, followed by Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey.
A few minutes later, Collins grabbed a sandwich and hopped the bus back to Port St. Lucie. We debated if the Colon news was even worth tweeting. It was. Barely. "It's just one start," Collins said. "I know it's a big deal to a lot of people. But to me, it's not."
Frankly, it shouldn't be to you, either.
Listen, we were kidding about the TV show. But you get the point.
The Mets aren't naming a pope. Opening Day is a great event -- the best in sports as far as we're concerned. But the Mets play 162 games, and that's only one of them.
This is not a new discussion. It feels as if we have it every year. Fortunately, it lasts only about 24 hours before the Mets have a new injury to talk about.
In this case, look on the bright side. Wouldn't you rather have deGrom start the Citi Field opener anyway? And we're betting there still are good seats available to see Harvey humiliate the Phillies the next day, April 14.
The potential Citi windfall for the year's first Harvey Day didn't come up in yesterday's postgame discussion with Collins, but if that went into the decision, so be it. We have no problem with the Mets trying to make some extra cash on an otherwise dull April night. And if being stuck with the No. 3 label doesn't offend Harvey, then it's all good.
Just keep your fingers crossed that the rotation survives these final two weeks of spring training.
It would have been more troubling if Harvey had to be delayed because of a physical issue, and judging by Harvey's wipeout of the Yankees over the weekend, he looks fine.
As for the other thought that Harvey might be too amped up if the Mets used him on Opening Day, we're not buying that.
Despite the year layoff, Harvey knows what he's doing. He's wired every time he pitches, and the only reason we saw 99 mph out of him in his Grapefruit League debut was his two-inning limit.
The one part of this whole Opening argument in which we disagree with Collins, however, is the feeling that there's some obligation toward Colon, as if the Mets need to reward him for last season. As far as we're concerned, they rewarded him plenty with that $20-million contract.
And the idea that Harvey somehow should be penalized because he wasn't around last season, which Collins suggested? That doesn't fly. Rehabbing from Tommy John surgery is a legitimate alibi. The Mets traded for Johan Santana and made him the Opening Day starter that April in 2008. He wasn't around the previous season, either.
The real reward turns out to be for deGrom, coming off his Rookie of the Year honors. Colon gets a date with Max Scherzer in an enemy ballpark against a stacked Nationals team. But a week later, deGrom will pitch at a frenzied Citi Field with the chance to stick it to the Phillies.
So what if Colon follows in the forgettable footsteps of Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, the previous two Opening Day starters, in taking the ball on April 6. Worry more about who's still pitching for the Mets come September.