Mets pitcher Johan Santana throws in the bullpen.

Mets pitcher Johan Santana throws in the bullpen. Credit: Johan Santana. (Getty Images)

The Mets' offseason lowlights included the loss of the National League batting champion, more millions for Madoff's victims (among whom Mets fans count themselves) and - perhaps scariest of all - Fred Wilpon's promise that he won't sell the team.

If the only window of opportunity is the one preceding the ledge you've considered jumping off, amNewYork is here to offer hope. Here are three reasons to watch the Mets this season:

1. Don't call it a comeback.
When Johan Santana takes the mound on Opening Day, with the last 19 months in his rearview mirror, hitters' knees will buckle like they did this spring: 17 H, 7 BB, 13 SO, 18 1/3 IP, 3.44 ERA. The ace's rebuilt left shoulder may not return to two-time Cy Young Award form, but did we mention that Santana has the lowest ERA in the majors since 2004?

2. Mended fences.
Bringing in the fences will electrify Citi Field's power outage; the dying quails of 2011 that reached the warning track will become home runs in 2012. Hitting sixth this spring, Lucas Duda batted .296 with a team-leading four home runs. Now if only Ike Davis could stay on the field, Jason Bay could fix his swing and Daniel Murphy can improve his defense at second base.

3. Swallow your pride.
Do you really want to root for Jose Reyes while he sports the Miami Marlins' hideous new uniforms? Why turn your attention to the theatrics of Bobby Valentine provoking Joe Girardi and enforcing a no-beer ban in the Fenway clubhouse? Being a Mets fan is a pride-busting, character-building exercise in loyalty. But it beats being a bandwagon fan.

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