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Shvitz Go Mets
Posted By Greg Prince On February 24, 2005 @ 8:07 pm In Main Page | Comments Disabled
The thing I really like about spring training, I decided, is that after months of seeing ballplayers as businessmen and bounty and celebrities and vessels for our unfulfilled, unreasonable dreams, we are now seeing them as ballplayers. Press conferences and personal appearances are secondary to what it is they actually do for a living, which is why we're interested in hearing from and seeing them to begin with. Every one of them has to work out in public view. They put on their baseball pants (presumably one leg at a time) and their tops – no suits anymore – and their caps and they don't smile for the cameras. They run out on the field and stretch and shuffle and sprint. They all do it, every one of them at every camp.
Now that's baseball like it oughta be.
When the Mets network fires up next year, I hope they show live infield drills. Live BP. Live “attaboy” and “get that glove down” and “all right ladies, once more!” Spring training without actual baseball activity was getting on my nerves, too. All through the honey-do season, I didn't feel terribly deprived because there was so much news surrounding the Mets and I was a little smug about how it overshadowed the so-called winter sports. Then, the first week after players started trickling in was endless. I'd seen enough faux-baseball. Let's get it started, indeed. Actual game action can't be too far behind.
But will the vets last 'til then? Channel 2 had the best coverage last night of the marathon session that Willie inflicted on his charges. It occurred to me I had never seen baseball players look physically drained the way I would if I ever got any exercise. Cameron in particular appeared ready to agree to play left out if someone would just toss him a bottle of Aquafina. He was shvitzing. So were Piazza and Floyd. What did they do here when Howe was in charge? Arrange tee times and make reservations for an early lunch at Hooters? (Probably.)
This business about Beltran taking the kids under his wing is absolutely adorable though I'd be more comfortable if they could vacuum-pack Reyes at the end of the day. He is fragile. He is delicate. Don't mess him up, Carlos.
Of course Wright wants to work out some more. Ernie Banks' attitude would disgust Diamond Dave. “Only two? But there's time to play two more!”
When I was 9, I came across a sports comic book. The hero played for a team called the Bluebirds or Blue Jays. (Toronto was five years from expansion.) It was a baseball team in summer and football team in fall, according to the house ads; this was October, so it was football. Anyway, the plot of this particular edition was all the vets on the team were grumbling that only the young guys got to play. So the coach acted on a great idea from the hero: Use only veterans in the first half. For a while, it worked and the team played well. But by the second half, the veterans were out of breath and were getting beaten. So the coach put all those other guys back in to join the youngish hero and the sidekick (the only non-vets who started) and the team won. The moral? I think it was that you were worthless if you were old. Perhaps the manager will come to the same conclusion monitoring Wright's and Cameron's divergent reactions to Randolph's Regimen.
If after all this huffing and puffing the Mets have any fight left in them for anybody but the skipper, then bring it on, my core philosophy of non-violence be damned. Used to be you could count on one good brawl a year the same way there was an annual pitcher's home run. For all the legitimate concern that somebody (likely Reyes) will get hurt, it makes me feel like more of a man to see my boys out there getting one or two shots in against some headhunting goon. What's the best we've had in the last few seasons? Zeile and Penny shouting obscenities followed by some milling and meandering? “Suck on this for Shinjo!” should've become a rallying cry.
In 1980, the Mets and Expos threw down at Shea during the nightcap of a July 4 doubleheader. Bill Gullickson, creep, dusted Mike Jorgensen who had taken one in the head to seriously deleterious effect earlier in his career. Montreal was in first place and the Mets – the “Magic Is Back” Mets – had crept to within 3-1/2 games of them after winning the opener. I was on my bike with my radio on when the fight broke out and I pedaled mightily to Shell Creek Park where Joel Lugo was working so I could deliver the news as if it had come straight from Lexington and Concord. All at once, the Mets were dead serious about contending and standing up for themselves. A few weeks later, the Mets were dead, but I couldn't know that at the time.
Did I see Kerry Robinson in No. 22? That was fast. I'm not in the cult of Leiter, but you'd think it would maybe go to Pat Mahomes if not into mothballs for just a bit. I remember how shocked I was to see the Mets issue 36 to Wayne Twitchell in 1979 when Kooz's locker wasn't even cold. Flushing does not believe in tears.
Jason Phillips put on 15 pounds in the offseason. I've been trying to come up with a joke about this since Saturday, but really, it couldn't hurt.
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