Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Decade of Devastation (Or Not)

Is that you causing that stink, Tom Glavine?

Ten years ago today, Tom Glavine made his Mets debut.  On a bitterly cold final day of March in 2003, the former member of the pitching firm of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz was on the mound at Shea Stadium not as an opponent, but as a proud wearer of the orange and blue.

His opponents were the Chicago Cubs, a team against which he used to perform fairly well.  Notice my use of the words "used to".  Prior to 2003, Glavine was 13-10 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.17 WHIP versus the North Siders.  But beginning with his Opening Day start on March 31, 2003, Glavine was a completely different pitcher against the Cubs.

Prior to 2003, the Mets had not lost a season-opening game played at Shea Stadium since 1990, when they dropped a 12-3 decision to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  By the end of the day, Mets fans were wishing the 2003 opener was as close as the game that opened the 1990 campaign.

Glavine allowed eight hits and four walks in only 3⅔ innings of "work".  The lefty had already won 242 games in his career, but on this Opening Day, he allowed more batters to reach base than he sent back to the dugout.  The Mets would go on to lose the game, 15-2, and would go on to lose 94 more games during the 2003 season, though none was as lopsided as the opener.

Twenty years after Tom Terrific (Seaver) helped the Mets win their 1983 Opening Day game at Shea, Tom Non-Terrfic (Glavine) flushed the Mets' opener down the toilet.  Four years and 161 games later, Glavine would allow fewer base runners against the Florida Marlins in the Mets' playoff-crushing season-ending loss.  So perhaps the fact that he allowed "only" eight base runners against Florida in his final start for the Mets led to his "I'm not devastated" post-game comment.  After all, that was four fewer than the dozen Cubs' batters who reached base against him in his Mets debut.

Beginning with his Mets debut ten years ago today, Tom Glavine finished his career by going 2-5 with a 7.23 ERA and 1.80 WHIP versus the Cubs.  The Mets did eventually improve after their 95-loss season in Glavine's first year with the team.  But they never won a pennant with him on the team, something Glavine's Braves did five times in the 1990s.

Mets fans have had to endure a decade of devastation.  But the future is just around the corner.  And this time, Tom Glavine will be nowhere near the Mets on the date of their home opener.  The Mets might win tomorrow's Opening Day game or they might lose it.  But almost certainly, they'll be more competitive than they were in the season-opening game ten years ago.  They can't possibly be any worse.

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