Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2006:
Wear sunscreen. Especially if you're going to a day game. Even today's doubleheader if, in fact, it is played. It's pretty dreary outside right now.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, day games would be it. If you can get off from work, you should make it to one midweek afternoon game a year. And if you can't get off from work, call in sick.
Enjoy the power and beauty of our game. Oh never mind; you will not understand the power and beauty of our game until winter comes and you're at that unenviable position between seasons. Then you'll wish you had a lineup or a double-switch or a fifth starter to complain about. Trust me, in six months, you'll look back at comments you posted and wonder what had you so upset.
Don't worry about the future. Or worry about prospects and suspects, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve Albert Pujols with a hanging slider. You never know which of your minor leaguers will make it, so don't take it too hard if they don't.
Do one thing everyday that scares you. Minaya-bashers, see the big picture and realize Kris Benson wasn't traded away because of Jorge Julio's overwhelming potential. Randolph-doubters, study the standings before picking apart the manager's strategy yet again. You'll both be better off for it.
Sing. Anything will suffice, with the possible exception of “Our Team, Our Time”.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. Don't listen to sports talk radio to the point where you're yelling at it. It doesn't listen to you.
Post. Post on bulletin boards. Post on blogs. But spell. Spell correctly. If you don't know how, use spell check. Consult a dictionary. For the love of Doug Mientkiewicz, spell.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself. But keep an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard anyway.
Remember the wins, forget the losses. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old yearbooks. Don't throw away a single ticket stub.
Stretch. As soon as the last out of the top of the seventh is made.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life other than watch baseball. The most interesting people I know have no other interests that come close.
Get plenty of calcium. But don’t forget the peanuts and Cracker Jack.
Be kind to your closers. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe your team will win the pennant this year. Maybe it won't. Maybe you'll gain memories that will carry you into your dotage. Maybe you'll call this a forgettable season. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself or berate yourself either. Only one team in 30 gets a really big parade when all is said and done.
Enjoy your remote control. Don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.
Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in the upper deck.
Carry a cell phone, but don't yell into it while waving at a television camera.
Do NOT read the line on the back of the baseball card that indicates age. It will only make you feel old.
Get to know your utility infielders. You never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Be nice to your seatmates. If you get up for them, they'll get up for you.
Understand that kindred baseball spirits come and go, but with a precious few, you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you e-mailed in the midst of a seven-game losing streak when you were young.
Go to a game in Philadelphia once, but leave before it makes you hard. Go to a game in Toronto once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Travel. Go to a game everywhere.
Accept certain inalienable truths: concessions will rise, politicians will posture with the first ball, you too will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, concession prices were reasonable, politicians really did root for your team and kids knew the game.
Respect your elders, your Brooklyn Dodgers and your New York Giants. But eschew their California descendants. They are not who they claim to be.
Don’t expect anyone else to support your team. There will be a chilly April evening when it is you and just you in Section 9 of the mezzanine. Someday, when it is packed butt to gut, take quiet satisfaction that you were there by yourself when nobody else cared enough to join you.
Buy a new cap, but keep your old one.
Be careful whose advice you buy, even if it is that of a well-meaning blogger who peers into soggy Friday night skies and wonders why a baseball game would ever be postponed for something as inconsequential as intermittent downpours. You may not want to depend on me for guidance on the subject of rain.
But trust me on the sunscreen.