Maybe this wasn’t supposed to be The Year, but as of last July it was supposed to at least be The Year Before The Year. Contracts that were supposed to be holding down spending were coming off the books— supposedly. Jason Bay’s 4 year/$66M? A bad memory. Johan Santana’s 6 year/$137.5M? Mostly gone. The post-Madoff Wilpon pockets would finally open and fill holes in an Outfield of Misfit Toys. Ike Davis would remember what his swing looked like. Travis D’Arnaud would have a full season. David Wright would be himself, still. The payroll would inch, if not into Angels/Tigers First World territory, at least into nine digits. Meanwhile the young pitching that Sandy had landed for Beltran, Dickey and Reyes would emerge and add a third group to the Seaver/Ryan/Koosman and Gooden/Darling/Fernandez trios. Matt Harvey would go from Gooden ’84 (scary impressive) to Gooden ’85 (all-timer). Zack Wheeler would harness an offspeed pitch and learn how to hit his spots. Syndergaard and Montero would arrive, liberated from the thin Vegas air, and would dominate. Bullpens can be built last-minute. 90 wins and a wild card would follow. And then, the heavens would open and Jerry Seinfeld would descend in a Porsche 959 with Mr. Met riding shotgun and Chipper Jones would be run over by a riding mower. Reality check #1 (August): Harvey tears his UCL. Reality check #2 (winter): No one says anything explicit, but it becomes clear that $90M is the cap. Alderson uses up his savings on Granderson, Young, and Colon, adding $32.2M and 103 earth years to the roster. Ike Davis has no trade market because he has a different swing for each day of the week. Despite publically criticizing the sludgy and limp Ruben Tejada, Alderson apparently has no interest in a cut-rate Drew. Jose Valverde joins up. Reality check #3 (February): The Wilpons get their debt restructured to avoid a $250M payment supposedly due in June, meaning that they’re under no immediate incentive to sell or, apparently, to spend either. They have until 2021 on that debt now. There’s still $600M due on the loan against SNY, but there’s seems to be no reason why they won't be able to keep kicking that can too. Reality check #4 (yesterday): Staked to 4-2 and 5-4 leads from improbable homers, the bullpen implodes twice, with two crucial walks in the 7th and a D’Arnaud passed ball doing significant damage. Granderson goes 0 for 5 with 3 Ks. Parnell’s velocity looks off—continuing a March trend—and after the game it’s announced he’s got a partial MCL tear and is probably headed for TJ surgery. Valverde is promoted to closer. Bobby Abreu is signed to a AAA contract. Citi Field is in its 6th year. Win totals in its era: 70, 79, 77, 74, 74. Subtract Santana’s no-no and any Matt Harvey start, and the only memories it’s produced are Foreigner concerts and Amway storefronts. At least there’s Gary and Ron and Keith on TV. The reality check continues tomorrow with Colon on the mound. If you squint real hard and look at his reflection in a mirror, you can pretend he’s El Sid and it’s 1986.