So Day 1 being Day 1, the papers gave us the view from the GM's chair, to be followed, as always, by Day 2 or 3's view from the manager's chair. Day 1 being Day 1 for me as well, it was time for my annual moment of being struck by how programmed spring training and spring-training coverage is. It's like opera — take one look at the people on stage and one listen to the vocal tones and you pretty much know the story. Day 1 being Day 1, this is comforting and wonderful.
Though it wouldn't be Port St. Lucie without some of the usual Met weirdness. The beat writers obviously really like Jose Reyes, because they were sure willing to wave off the fact that he, um, didn't finish his hamstring regimen with Mackie Shilstone and, gosh, doesn't always do all his exercises because there are so darn many of 'em. Beyond the obvious objection — “There's just too many switches and doohickeys to push all of 'em, but I sure am loving flying 747s again!” — one wonders how the scribes would have taken that from, say, Rey Ordonez. And then there's Alay Soler (identified, oddly, as Soler Solay in the Star-Ledger), who says his agent's stealing from him and whose agent says he was trying to sneak in on a doctored passport. Either way, he ain't here. Yes, a career in a baseball team's front office is very rewarding, kids — and did we mention Jeff Wilpon calls 25 times an hour?
Anyway, one of my favorite parts of spring training is how there's really only a single set of player profiles that get trotted out every year. Only the names change. The beat writers are probably already holed up at the Cracker Barrel figuring this out, but we can get there ahead of them.
A couple of these perennials have already been cast:
Guy Who's About to Burst Onto the Scene: Reyes. Let's hope.
Guy MIA Because of Visa Problems: Obviously it's the unfortunate Mr. Soler/Solay. If he was a Yankee he'd cruise in on a yacht and some Costanza type would tell us he bobbed here in an oil drum.
Journeyman Who Just Might Stick: One paper (forget which) has already cast Joe Nelson for this role, though most of the story was about how he knows Jason Kidd. Of course Ron Calloway, Manny Aybar, Jose Rosado, Marlon Anderson and others are all auditioning. “Stick” is of course a relative term — who wants to be the next Jon Nunnally?
Minor Leaguer in Awe of It All: Philip Humber is already gushing about pitching off The Same Mound Occupied By Pedro.
Yet to be cast:
Minor Leaguer With Interesting Story: Who knows? Bob Keppel? Ambiorix Concepcion? It's usually one of the anonymous catchers kept around for split-squad games. Getting cast in this role means you will never make the Show. Send the story to mom, because it's over.
Guy in the Best Shape of His Career: So far I suppose it would be Heath Bell, though … oh, we're going to make a lot of fun of Heath Bell this year, so let's leave it at that for now.
Comeback Feel-Good Story: Andres Galarraga, of course. In our house the story of April and May will be Emily swearing off her mysterious, longstanding hatred of the Big Cat.
Guy Enjoying His Last Go-Round: Galarraga by default — we don't seem to really have one of these. Which is best.
Guy Who's Just Happy to Be Here: TBD. Eric Valent?
Guy Who Works Harder Than Anybody: Between David Wright and Joe McEwing, we've got this one covered.
Guy in New Surroundings: We're gonna get at least a week of these for Pedro and Beltran, not to mention Willie Randolph. Mientkiewicz won't qualify because he'll have to be asked about the World Series ball 58,000 times.
Guy Going Back to His Roots: You know, the veteran fallen on hard times who's probably going to make the team, but still arrives with a crew cut, takes a number in the 60s for inspiration, works hard and keeps his mouth shut. Do we have one of these this year?
Guy Who Doesn't Take It Too Seriously: Not sure we have one of these “I'll be there when the bell rings, skip” guys, what with Mike Cameron coming off surgery and Pedro being the Anti-Pedro.
Guy Who Knows He'll Be Elsewhere: Cameron? Cliff Floyd? Grant Roberts?
Guy Swearing You'll See Him in July: Scott Strickland? Tyler Yates? Said guy generally doesn't show, natch.
Guy Who's Making This Team, Dammit: Victor Diaz? This guy inevitably gets screwed by a get-the-roster-down-to-25 trade that brings in some has-been from another organization. Baseball is so imaginative sometimes.
As a parting thought, I loved Shilstone's quote about Reyes: “His varied problems are multifaceted.” It's like one of those occasional bummer fortune cookies, if management consultants took over writing them. Still, I've felt the same way about myself now and then.