Why does it matter who the Mets’ Opening Day starter is?

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Bartolo Colon

I’ve seen it bubbling up on Twitter as it seemed increasingly likely for the past several days and now that it’s official it has bubbled up to the New York Post: varying levels of dismay that Bartolo Colon is going to the Mets’ Opening Day starter. The dismay coming by virtue of the fact that Colon is not one of the Mets’ promising young starters like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard:

It’s just … curious. Every day for weeks, for months, for years, we have heard about the young guns, the young arms, the ones who are here, the ones who are on the way, the ones who will carry the Mets back to relevance and then to prominence and beyond, and …

And on the day that will begin this rich, fresh, fresh-faced time in Mets history, Opening Day of this brand-spanking-new era, they’re going to start the season with Bartolo Colon, who made his first Opening Day start during the CLINTON ADMINISTRATION. (Editor’s note: that’s 100 percent true.)

That isn’t just a buzzkill, let’s be honest.

It’s a buzz massacre.

Why this matters is beyond me. For one thing the Mets are starting on the road, so it’s not like the paying customers are being deprived of their glimpse of the future. deGrom is pitching the home opener, Harvey the second home game.

For another thing, the theory behind who should be honored with an Opening Day start is not exactly a matter of some sort of established orthodoxy. Some teams do it by seniority. Some teams give the start to last year’s best pitcher who is still with the team. Some managers have, in the past, decided to play matchups early on and pit their best against the other team’s second best and so on. Heck, the mid-80s Braves seemed to give it to Rick Mahler every year because someone there decided that he was Opening Day good luck.

Colon could be getting it on some age-before-beauty theory. He could be getting it because someone decided that, even though he was clearly not the Mets’ best starter last year, he led the team in wins and isn’t that nice? He could be getting it because Opening Day at any park is occasioned by pomp, circumstance and delay and if you’re going to cause one of your pitchers to be taken out of his normal pregame rhythms, why not let it be the old warhorse? He could be getting it because that “buzz” for Opening Day is going to come even if the reanimated corpse of Carl Willey is given the nod. Sustaining that buzz into Games 2-162 is a much harder trick. Better to use the young guns more then.

Or, maybe, it just doesn’t matter at all because it’s just one of 162 games and who the Opening Day starter was will be forgotten by the second or third trip through the rotation.

And of course by then no one will have a good excuse to get worked up about it all and if no one is worked up it’s much harder to make a column or a radio segment out of it.

Max Scherzer: ‘There’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions’

Max Scherzer
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MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.

Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.

Scherzer’s statement:

After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.

Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.

Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.