We're all familiar with the myriad giveaway, promotional and special days set up at ballparks to goose attendance figures, but Opening Day isn't a game that needs any additional selling points.
Fans always turn up for the first game of the season, so there's no need for bobbleheads or throwback uniforms or anything but the return of baseball.
Don't tell that to the Mets, though.
Unbeknownst to anyone, the team has been planning a 2009 throwback game to celebrate the mighty accomplishments of last season while starting this one. How can you tell? Just get a gander at this potential lineup for the home team.
That's the way things are shaping up, Matthews gets the nod over Angel Pagan because it underscores the point, with Wednesday's news that both Daniel Murphy and Jose Reyes won't be physically able to answer the bell. Murphy sprained his knee and will miss two to six weeks (nothing like the wide-ranging Mets recovery timelines to bring you back) and Reyes will miss at least five games while playing in extended spring training games in Port St. Lucie.
Bad luck on Murphy and we've already discussed that this is a good way to handle Reyes, but that's a really ugly lineup. How ugly? Santana's on-base percentage was only three points lower than what Barajas was able to manage with the Blue Jays. It wasn't much lower than Jacobs' and, in a very small sample size, was better against left-handed pitchers. Hopefully Jason Bay brought his walking shoes with him from Boston.
The good news is that once Bay and/or Francoeur, we're about personal choice here, you can freely take off and roam the stadium for something from Shake Shack or those tasty fries and feel safe that there's no chance of missing anything significant.
Sad as that looks, it only takes slipping Reyes and Pagan in to make it something you could live with until Carlos Beltran returns. Murphy is better than Jacobs, but he's not so much better that you're going to actually notice it over a month of the season. It's not going to score buckets of runs, obviously, and it's a bit sad that Jacobs isn't more of a drop-off from the actual starter, but it's still a good bit better than what the Mets ran out for most of last season.
In fact, if the preseason schedule was any indication, the non-Santana names in the ninth spot are going to be the real reason for pain and suffering during the season.