There haven't been a lot of moments in the past few years when the best-case scenario has come to fruition for the Mets.
So it might just be a good omen that the 2012 season will start with Johan Santana throwing the first pitch of the season at Citi Field on Thursday afternoon.
Terry Collins made the news official on Sunday, giving the Mets back the ace of their rotation after a season-and-a-half of rehab has finally come to an end.
Santana's path through spring training hasn't been the smoothest thing in the history of baseball, but there's been enough good signs to make you feel like this isn't just the Mets putting the cart before the horse in hopes of generating some positive headlines. Expectations should be kept to a reasonable level, obviously, but there's some honest to goodness reason to feel hopeful about the Mets.
That's a nice change of pace and it's one that will hopefully last well beyond the opening pitches of Opening Day. Even as Jason Bay continues to find new bottoms to the barrel that he fell into the moment he signed with the Mets and assorted other issues give reason to believe this will be a long season, Santana's return is a sign that sunshine hasn't totally left the Mets franchise behind.
Over in the Bronx, the pitching news isn't quite so good. Michael Pineda, the treasure gained for sending Jesus Montero's bat to Seattle, will start the year on the disabled list with shoulder tendonitis.
That's bad news, obviously, but it's made a bit better because the injury means that the Yankees were spared the embarrassment of sending Pineda to Triple-A. The merits of such a move -- giving Pineda a time to work on his pitches while ironing out whatever sent him downhill in the second half -- would mean nothing compared to the optics of shipping out the best prospect in the system for a player who couldn't even make the team.
Pineda's injury and ineffectiveness have already launched a few dozen "OMG!" reactions, which is both predictable, wrong and sure to get worse if Montero mashes with the Mariners. It's disappointing that Pineda isn't pitching in the third spot in the rotation with a fastball that destroys the faith of opposing hitters, but all isn't lost because that isn't the case right now.
He remains part of the Yankees future, just as Andy Pettitte does, even if Freddy Garcia is part of their present. It's a long season and Pineda's likely to be part of it again.
It's just not the best-case scenario which, for the time being, is in sole possession of the Mets.