© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

03/31/06 10:00 AM ET

Glavine looks to set the tone

Washington (0-0) at New York (0-0), 1:10 p.m. ET

The Mets, rebuilt after their renaissance season in 2005, hope to put their best foot and the only left-handed arm in their rotation forward Monday afternoon when they face the Nationals at Shea Stadium. Tom Glavine, the understudy for Pedro Martinez, has drawn the assignment. And as he said three years ago when the Mets were about to launch their season, "You can't win 'em all if you don't win the first one."

With a revamped and well-balanced offense and a dominating closer in their bullpen, the Mets will go forward Monday. Carlos Delgado and, perhaps, Billy Wagner will make their Shea debuts and Carlos Beltran will begin to assert himself, he hopes, as he seldom did last season. David Wright and Jose Reyes will resume their burgeoning careers.

And they'll all say it's important to get off to a good start. But is it?

With all his experiences in the game, Glavine has learned that the season's first game sets a tone that usually lasts for about 15 minutes. Really, that's all. The Mets suffered a dreadful loss to the Reds on Opening Day last season and didn't win until their sixth game. But the 7-6 loss, decided on a final pitch, wasn't the first domino. The Mets didn't lose their second game because Joe Randa beat Braden Looper in the first one.

"We all know that's true," Glavine said. "We didn't go 0-162."

Yet, he would prefer to win Monday and overcome the '06 inertia.

"For all of us and for myself, too," he says. "It's just better that way."

But if the Mets had won on Opening Day as dramatically as they lost and then ran off three or four more victories, one of them would have imbued the first game with some special, quasi-permanent power. It's all part of the self-deception that fuels the game and allows its participants to deal with the strain of failure.

"We lie to ourselves all the time," David Cone said days after he had started the Mets' Opening Day victory in St. Louis in 1992. "If it's good, we hold on to it and make something more out of it. If it's negative, we move on. Turn the page. You learn pretty early that you can't dwell on the negative. It'll eat you up."

The Mets had won on Opening Day that year in fairly dramatic fashion. Bobby Bonilla, who would endure a most trying first season in New York, hit two home runs, the second one coming in the 10th inning and providing the margin of victory in a 4-2 game. They left old Busch that night, pleased with themselves. But they lost the ensuing two games and six of their first eight. (Incidentally, the second baseman on that team was one Willie Randolph.)

"All it means if you've lost the first one," former Mets shortstop Kevin Elster said the previous year, "is that you lost one game. But if you win the first one, you feel like you're going to the World Series.

"The truth is somewhere in between."

  Mets probable lineup
1.SSJose Reyes
2.CPaul Lo Duca
3.CFCarlos Beltran
4.1BCarlos Delgado
5.3BDavid Wright
6.LFCliff Floyd
7.RFXavier Nady
8.2BAnderson Hernandez
9.PTom Glavine

Pitching matchup
WSH: RHP Livan Hernandez
• 15-10, 3.98 ERA in 2005
• 2-2, 6.16 ERA in 2005 vs. NYM
• 10-10, 4.52 ERA lifetime vs. NYM

NYM: LHP Tom Glavine
• 13-13, 3.53 ERA in 2005
• 3-1, 2.93 ERA in 2005 vs. WSH
• 30-20, 3.41 ERA lifetime vs. WSH

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
WSH: WTWP 1500 AM and 107.7 FM
NYM: WFAN 660 AM, WADO 1280 AM (Español)

On deck
• Wednesday: vs. Washington, 7:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: vs. Washington, 7:10 p.m. ET
• Friday vs. Florida, 7:10 p.m. ET

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.