By Brad Kallet
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It’s frigid in New York, and the hot stove couldn’t be colder.
The MLB offseason has crawled to an agonizing stop, and with each freezing day that passes, the yearn for baseball gets stronger.
It doesn’t help that, in these passing months, there hasn’t been much to be excited about on the local sports scene. The football season is over now that the Giants have been eliminated — we won’t mention the Jets — and of the three New York-area hockey teams, only the Rangers have a realistic shot of going anywhere in 2017. The Nets are horrid again, and the Knicks, as expected, have come crashing back down to Earth.
So as you turn the heat up and wait for spring — and for baseball — here are 15 reasons to look forward to the Mets breaking camp in February.
Hopefully this warms you up a bit, or at the very least gives you something pleasant to think about.
1.) Yoenis Cespedes is back, and nobody thought he would be. A rare talent — and rare personality — we’ll get to watch him, and all the ridiculousness that comes with that, for four more years. With Cespedes in the lineup, there’s always a reason to come to the park.
2.) Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are all healthy — for now. If they can stay healthy — a big “if” — and pitch like we know they can, this rotation could be historic.
3.) Jose Reyes and David Wright, at some point this season, will be on the left side of the infield, together. I can’t believe I’m even writing this. It sounds fake.
4.) Syndergaard isn’t the best pitcher in baseball, but he might have the best stuff in the sport. When he’s on, few pitchers, if any, are more dominant and fun to watch. His lovable personality might even be better than his wicked fastball/curveball combination.
5.) Say what you will about Wright and what he can — or cannot — provide at this point in his career, but he’s an undisputed Mets legend. Appreciate watching him play now because we’ll miss him when he’s gone. He’s not the player he once was, and he’s not a Hall of Famer, but knowledgeable fans understand and value what he’s brought to this franchise.
6.) The Mets have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs for a third consecutive season. It will be difficult to win the division because the Nationals are excellent, but the Amazin’s should come away with a wild card, at the very least. Anything less would be a disappointment.
7.) Gary, Keith and Ron, and Howie and Josh. The Mets’ announcers, on both television and radio, are second to none, and by the end of the season they feel more like family members than broadcasters.
8.) The atmosphere has been electric at Citi Field the past two years, and there’s no reason that should change should the team continue to contend for a playoff spot. It doesn’t have the personality that Shea Stadium did, but it’s beginning to finally have some character and personality.
9.) The team can’t have as many injuries as it did a year ago. It just can’t. It’s not possible, right? Also, there’s no way Daniel Murphy will hit as well as he did last year. (Now that I wrote this, he’s going to hit .385 with 40 homers.)
10.) Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera really impressed last season, both at the plate and in the field. If they can produce like they did in 2016, this team will be in good shape.
11.) At some point this year, Lucas Duda and Jay Bruce — if he’s still on the team — will go through brutal slumps and hear it from fans at the ballpark, on the web and on talk radio. Then one, or both, will hit 450-foot moonshots and quiet everyone down for a night. That will be a cool moment.
12.) Reyes will hit some triples, and the crowd will absolutely erupt à la 2006. We saw a bit of that in 2016, and now we have a full season of it.
13.) Harvey seems to have been forgotten. You might remember that, not too long ago, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He needs to prove himself again, but if he gets in a rhythm and throws like he’s capable of throwing, he’ll own this city again.
14.) Ditto for deGrom. He’s an understated guy, so he tends to fall below the radar a bit, especially on a staff with Syndergaard and Harvey. He also didn’t get run support last year and, like pretty much every other Met, was hampered by injuries. The former Rookie of the Year and All-Star is a stud.
15.) Last but not least — and perhaps most importantly — it will be a new season, a fresh start. Hope springs eternal. Will this be the year that the World Series drought ends? Maybe, maybe not (most likely not). But it doesn’t hurt to dream. Ya gotta believe, right?
Brad Kallet is the managing editor of TENNIS.com and a frequent contributor to WFAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @brad_kallet