Surprise, surprise, surprise …What was speculated for weeks became reality this morning with the news Brian Bannister was in the rotation and Aaron Heilman in the bullpen. We’ve been writing the possibility for weeks and the suspense ended – sort of – before the Mets boarded their bus for Jupiter. Bannister knew, but was afraid to say anything because he wasn’t sure Heilman had been told. So, he played dumb and said the Mets thanked him for his hard work this spring and told him he was still in the mix. So, we were dumbfounded when the first words out of Willie Randolph’s mouth were that Bannister was in the rotation. Eight writers immediately looked in their notebooks to see if they missed anything.
The good soldier …Heilman was clearly disappointed, but didn’t make any waves. Nothing like in the NBA or the NFL. However, he wants to start, so it bears watching his future reaction should he get passed over again.
In the money …At least my day started out better than Randy Johnson. I learned I won the writer’s pool in the NCAA tournament while Johnson woke to a more stunning good-morning. “Little Unit,’’ is such a classic New York Post headline. Not quite, “Roger gets traded to Angels,’’ the day after Roger Maris died, but certainly eye raising. That there was a winner before the Final Four games is indication of how off everybody was. It also shows what a great tournament this has been. The Mets over the 1969 Orioles in the World Series and Jets over the Colts that year in the Super Bowl are two of the greatest upsets in sports history. George Mason winning the whole thing would rank up there. The Mets winning it all was stunning, but that is so because it was held in context to where they had been. It has to be remembered they won 100 games, with 28 by shutouts. When a team has that kind of pitching winning is no fluke.