People ask me what I do on an off-day when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for later in the spring. *
Off-days suck. They suck anytime. You've lost three of five, you've lost nine straight, you've finished the season having lost 90+ games and nobody particularly wanted the caps thrown into the stands, doesn't matter: An off-day is still howlingly empty, a void that's never full no matter how much fidgeting and resentment you pour into it. But off-days suck even more when you're playing well: When you're getting the bounces and the calls, the big hits and the little hits and the shouldn't-be-hits, an off-day is like someone pinching you and yanking you out of a sweet, gentle dream. And most of the time that nice dream isn't reclaimable when you smack back into the pillow.
So an off-day when we've just steamrolled the Cincinnati Reds? With the Yankees coming to visit? Thanks, schedule makers. It sucks on so many levels. It sucks to have an entire day of fretting about the Yankees, who are hotter than Newsweek's e-mail right now, without even the decent distraction of an old-fashioned National League game. It sucks to have a deep-breath day before a 10-day stretch that'll tell us something about this team and 2005 — better to stay unconscious and keep taking the field than pause for unhelpful reflection. It sucks to have to fill a day with worries about our marquee free agent, lightning rod, spiritual leader, and newly beloved el jefe — I don't wanna talk about Pedro's hip or the cortisone shot la la la I'm not listening to you. And most basically and perhaps even most importantly, it sucks to know a warm spring night is going to roll around with no baseball game to cradle, consume and consider. What am I supposed to do, go see Revenge of the Sith? Oh yeah, I'm also a Star Wars geek, I probably should go see Revenge of the Sith.
(Speaking of Revenge of the Sith, the only reason I haven't chastised you for the karmic poking of a wasps' nest that was the Collapse-o-Meter is that I know you've been lying awake nights regretting it on your own. Well, that and the fact that I was enjoying it too much. We Yankee haters are like sleepaway-camp counselors in a slasher movie — we see the escaped lunatic plunge into the old well with a pitchfork bisecting him and we head back to our cabins for a night of hard-earned rest. And then … NOOOOOO!!!!!! Will we never learn?)
By the way, the Reds are terrible . They're pathetic in the old sense of the word, “arousing or capable of arousing sympathetic sadness and compassion.”  Right now they're the knobby-kneed nine-year-old in right field praying the ball won't get hit to him, then closing his eyes when it inevitably is. (I know of what I speak: One horrible evening in 1978 I floundered after a ball hit over my head in right field, grabbed it, wheeled, fired, fell down and extracted my face from the clover to see I'd thrown it kind of near the bewildered center fielder. I wish I were exaggerating even a little bit. Ich bin ein Red.) The Reds make physical mistakes, mental mistakes, get screwed on calls, the whole bad-team shebang. They look like us after The Trade. And Dave Miley is, like, so fired — he's already doing that drowning-manager thing of alternately flying into scary rages and staring out at the field in numb disbelief. Don't worry Dave, it'll be over soon.
Of course, I wish we played them again tomorrow, instead of not again until 2006. I wish we played anybody tomorrow. Let's play one!
* Apologies to 1962 New York Mets coach Rogers Hornsby. I hear he also played for the Cardinals or something.