Fresh, new Mets? Home opener is stale tale National League

April 12, 1994|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- It was supposed to be a new product. The New York Mets put fresh faces on the field, and they put fresh paint on the walls, and they hoped that on this Opening Day at Shea Stadium things would look appealing and different and people would get excited about 1994.

Somehow, though, it ended up looking like 1993. After a promising road trip to open the season, the Mets returned home to Shea Stadium yesterday and found themselves hearing the all too familiar boos from the home crowd by the time the game reached the third inning.

The Mets made four errors and several more misplays, pitched poorly and disappointed the 42,467 who came looking for hope and left having watched an ugly 9-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

"It just so happened we picked a bad day -- Opening Day -- to have a bad game," said closer John Franco. "There were some of younger

guys, their first time in New York in front of the home crowd, and sometimes the nerves have a way of taking over, and it showed a little bit."

With the image of 103 losses fresh from last season and with 13 new names on the roster, the Mets failed to sell out Shea on an Opening Day for the first time since 1984.

"What we have is new people who have never played in Shea Stadium before," said manager Dallas Green. "And your reputation precedes you, so to speak."

Fernando Vina, a rookie, filled in for the injured Bonilla at third base and was fine at the plate but made two throwing errors to first.

Sophomores Ryan Thompson and Jeromy Burnitz each was shaky in the outfield: Thompson missed a few fly balls because the sun; Burnitz allowed a bounding ball to bounce over his glove.

"I think what you saw today is fairly indicative of what this team is going to be," Green said. "It's going to be dependent on pitching, and we're young and we're going to make mistakes. We made too many mistakes today. But you also notice that we never quit, and I think that's indicative of this team, too."

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