It was evident from the start that 2017 would not be 2016.
After narrowly missing the playoffs, the awkward self-evaluation that follows a disappointing season, yielded a new more athletic roster, we hoped, filled with players that would endure, buy in to winning, and resist the temptation to bail when fatigue set in, or when one of their control freak coaches called and decided “shut it down” was the order of the day.
I recall thinking after game one “mission accomplished.” We had balance, speed, power pitchers and outclassed an Orleans team that would go on to have the league’s best record.
We also had had every manger’s dream, a UNICORN. A pitcher, from nowhere, with little advanced billing, who defied convention, could pitch every day and whose delivery and ability to execute was so unique that from game one his vexing of opposing hitters became comical. Stay tuned.
As the summer wore on, we would stumble, play poor defense and suffer critical injuries to key pitchers, placing us in the middle of the pack. There were, however, signs that something good was happening and this group that was going to make it a good summer…how good was impossible to contemplate.
First, I noticed players inscribing on their hats, shoes etc., 4MOM. A show of support for a very young, supremely skilled CF, whose family was engaged in battle with a cruel disease, that left him not knowing when that awful call from home was coming. They never spoke about it, just did it, adopted their guy and went about business.
2017 was different.