Sorry to hear about your 5 o'clock vigil, hombre. I'll fill you in on Opening Night.
I arrived late — Joshua is sick and was on a mission to watch every episode of Harold and the Purple Crayon, so when I tuned in Mets pregame was beginning. So were AV mishaps. The picture kept garbling and cutting out, and the sound would degenerate into squealing and cut out as well. In classic Met fan/little brother fashion, I caught myself hoping this had happened on YES's first night as well. (In the News, Bob Raissman says it did. Whew.) Then the picture went black and you could hear the control-room guys discussing things with a fair amount of urgency, and I braced myself for inadvertent profanity and a horse-whipping in tomorrow's tabloids. (Hey, I would've been cussing, and it just happened to ESPN.) The control-room guys stayed cool under fire, but the sound never really recovered — it sounds gravelly and murky even now.
But you know what? That's OK. It's the first night. It's spring training. And I found myself thinking, with surprising pride, “Hey, this is our network. Cool!” I didn't think I'd care — it's only a TV network — but I did. This is ours, I thought, and I was happy.
Granted, we're the faithful. In a pre-satellite-radio age I drove through August nights in Georgia with the windows up and the air conditioning off so I could catch the faintest bits of WFAN through the buzz of distance, so a little gravel on the audio track ain't gonna throw me. Anyway, between parenting and a combination of iPod and treadmill, the sound was off in the Fry household for the first couple of hours. Watching a Mets telecast in silence — consider it my parting tip of the cap to Fran Healy.
When I did turn the volume up, Gary and Keith offered an excellent augury for the season. Cliff Floyd launched a home run, one of those Clifford blasts that seem to curl their way off the very end of his bat before vanishing deep in the night, as if he'd hit it with an oar. That prompted Gary to note that with his kidney woes apparently behind him (wood knocking!), Floyd is as happy as he's been.
Gary: …and that's what Cliff can do when he's happy.
Keith: And when it's over the plate and down.
Low point: Seeing Derek Jeter. Repeatedly. I know ads pay the bills, but couldn't they run a warning so I could cover my eyes or hustle my child away from the set? Or ask 2KSports to film an alternate version in which a Josh Beckett fastball drops Jeter like a hot coal? (As for the Willie Randolph/Joe Torre Subway ads, I'm refusing to admit they exist.)
What's that? The game? Well….
* I know I've said this before, but Lastings Milledge has ridiculously fast hands. Please mark down his debut as a Why Would You Be Anywhere Else? night to get tickets.
* I'm already preparing my first, second and third posts moaning about why Jose Lima is our fifth starter. I know there's not much more than my paranoia to suggest he will be, but I sense the Ice Williams mistake all over again — if a guy's a veteran and a good clubhouse presence, so what if he has no apparent remaining ability to play baseball? Maybe Jose just needs more work — it's only St. Patrick's Day, and Roberto Hernandez didn't look great last spring. But what, honestly, can Lima do that Brian Bannister couldn't?
* Baseball is cruel. Just ask Jeff Keppinger. He had a pretty solid '04 for us, lost '05 to injury under tough circumstances, and has been treated dismissively, almost scornfully, by Randolph this spring for no apparent reason. Tonight Matsui injures his knee (you'd like to imagine everyone hopes he's OK), and suddenly people are actually paying attention to Keppinger. So of course he has to have a horrible game, doing nothing right at the plate, in the field, or on the basepaths.
Poor Keppinger. It's not such a funny game when it bites you in the hinder.