Is anything going swimmingly at this stagnant stage of winter? For one Mets fan, the answer is yes.
Eric Brown has gone to St. Lucie. And he's got it going on.
If any of you have channeled your workday boredom down the contents of our sidebar, you may have clicked on a Mets Extra in the Picnic Area called Met Camp. Until recently, it linked you to Eric's diary of his 2005 trip to Mets fantasy camp, an experience he likened to “the Make-A-Wish Foundation for the middle-aged set.” He had a ball — such a big one, in fact, that clicking on Met Camp now takes you to his in-progress 2007 journey “back to Mecca”.
This time around, Eric has received a transfusion of sorts from Ed Charles, learned to watch what all-time records to not mention to Anthony Young and discovered what exactly is in a jar of Boudreau's Butt Paste. Discover Eric's blog for yourself and find out why he refutes his own assertion that “only a fool climbs Mount Fuji twice.” Keep climbing, sir. You're taking one for the team there.
Unless half of us has changed his mind, I think I speak for the entire staff of Faith and Fear in Flushing when I tell you this is a hill neither Jason nor I would ever attempt to scale though we are chronologically eligible. Jason long ago granted me power of attorney to lead the intervention against his ever going over the Tradition Field wall. No such action is necessary to prevent me from doing the same. Suit up like a real Major Leaguer? I can't even keep my insole supports from curling up uncomfortably under my toes.
While Eric Brown's two camp outings make for warm reading on a frigid night, hobnobbing with Doug Flynn, John Stearns and the “indecipherable but energetic Willie Montañez” in a setting whose professionalism likely exceeds that which the 1978 Mets encountered in those post-Mrs. Payson years isn't quite my baseball fantasy. I don't fantasize about playing. I like to watch.
Which doesn't mean I wouldn't pay a premium to live out a certain scenario that has inhabited my wishful thoughts for the past 95 days.
Fantasy camp? Try this:
Turn the heat on outside.
Open Gates A through E, not at some Spring Training satellite but at the home office in Queens.
Let 56,000 of us elbow our way in.
Bring back a certain team from the Midwest to take on the artists in residence.
Blast “Time of the Season” and “The Curly Shuffle” and, yes, “Sweet Caroline” over the very loud speakers.
Make it 1-1 in the top of the ninth…or 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth if absolutely necessary. Hell, I'd take bases loaded, two out and sign for an oh-and-two count if that's all that was available.
But this time — and it's non-negotiable — the last tune we hear must be “Takin' Care of Business,” delivered with feeling.
This time we get to be happy campers.
Give me that field and that dream and I'd pass over the money without even thinking about it.