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The curse of Citi Field?

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Ever since the New York Mets opened their new playpen in Flushing 2 years ago, the team has been beset by a seemingly endless spate of injuries to key players. Year 3 at Citi Field has been more of the same.

The Mets opened the season knowing their ace, Johan Santana, would not be available until at least mid-July, recovering from shoulder surgery. Outfielder Jason Bay was placed on the DL right before the start of the season, and the impact of his absence was devastating. Bay returned two weeks ago, and the Mets' fortunes have improved. Sure, they're still in the basement of the NL East headed into a weekend series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers & Mets have one thing in common. Off-field scandal. The Dodgers are now being run pro tempore by Major League Baseball while owners Frank & Jamie McCourt hash out a divorce settlement, and now comes word that the Dodgers---shudder---can't make payroll. The New York tabloid press would have a field day if the Mets, victimized by Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scam, fell into that same trap. As it is, the Mets are looking for a minority partner to help run the team, but some pundits believe it is best for Fred Wilpon, who bought the team 31 years ago in a partnership with publisher Nelson Doubleday, to sell the team outright to someone who can turn things back around in much the same way the Wilpon family did in the 80's.

However, it isn't quite as easy for the Mets. Irving Picard, a trustee for other Madoff victims, claims the Wilpons profited from the Madoff mess. Total BS, I say. Picard is an ambulance chasing weasel who's chasing the wrong people here. As Don Rickles might put it, give Picard a box of cookies and make him go away!

Back to the injuries. As Bay returned to the lineup on April 17, Angel Pagan went down with the dreaded strained oblique muscle. Jose Reyes suffered the same injury last year and missed a chunk of time. Pagan may not be back until, oh, Memorial Day at the earliest, and that's just being generous.

Reliever Pedro Beato, a rule 5 pickup, is on the DL with tendonitis. Another pitcher, Bobby Parnell has numbness resulting from a loss of circulation in the middle finger of his pitching hand. [Personal disclosure: I have had the same problem, but on my left hand, over the last few days. The circulation is slowly returning.] Parnell, at least, is on a rehab assignment and will return in a few days.

But when you consider the tidal wave of injuries to star players like Reyes, Santana, Bay, and Carlos Beltran since Citi Field opened in 2009, and you wonder if there's a curse attached to the stadium. What if some disgruntled fan didn't like the idea of the Mets shutting down Shea Stadium and opening a new park? Hey, stranger things have been known to have either happened or been made the stuff of legend.

Can the Mets overcome this injury jinx? Of course, but only by focusing on the immediate job at hand, playing ball, and not worrying about the tabloid media taking every minor issue and blowing it out of proportion. It can be done. As the late Tug McGraw declared during their 1973 pennant run, "ya gotta believe". Nearly 40 years later, that still applies.


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