Gleemonex makes it feel like it’s 72 degrees in your head…all the time.
—Advertising slogan for the orange pill purported to chase your depression away in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy
Spring Training’s a placebo. There’s no active ingredient in it that should have any tangible effect on your well-being. Yet it does the trick every time. I’ve been taking Spring Training for a couple of days now and I feel much better about things, no matter how non-existent its impact will be on the baseball season to come.
We’re six weeks from Opening Night. When that Sunday comes, we will have forgotten just about everything that’s grabbed our attention this weekend. It’s ephemera, shooting by in the breeze like a Candlestick hot dog wrapper. As weighty news goes, the dribs and drabs emanating out of Port St. Lucie make for thin gruel. But after a winter on the starvation diet, gruel is mighty tasty.
Please sir, I want some more.
If a theme has been detected from these first essentially substance-free days of reportage (reporting on the reporting of throwers and crouchers), it is withs and withouts.
Newspapers with baseball. Which are much better than newspapers without baseball. Saturday papers usually carry as much content as one of those diner placemats with cocktail recipes (vodka gimlet anyone?), but yesterday they were freaking Scripture. Sure you could look it up online, ya cheapskates, but how could you resist the chance to lay down 50 cents and, in return, get a back page of the Daily News in which the lead development of the morning was Willie Randolph wearing his World Series ring to work? If that doesn’t say spring to you, nothing will. Ditto for the pages inside the News and Newsday and the Times yesterday. Mets news. Yankees news. Wire news. I got a particular kick out of John Harper’s lament that the Yankees are turning on each other in print as in the days when Willie was winning that ring. Gee John, if Mussina weren’t barking at Pavano, wouldn’t you write that the Yankees sure are boring? And who asks them what’s on their minds anyway?
Managers with rings. So Randolph wore his ’77 bling on Friday. The wrong NY doesn’t faze me. Maybe a year ago, surely two years ago. Now he’s just motivating. Willie, it was noted, has six rings in his jewelry box. I assume every returning Met who checked in Friday looked at it and thought, “They give out rings? Well, if I’d known that, I would have tried harder!” Casey Stengel had nine World Series rings (assuming John McGraw authorized rings for the world champion Giants in ’21 and ’22). I don’t know if he showed any of them to Gus Bell or Felix Mantilla. If he did, it didn’t take.
Shirts without numbers. Very subtle Uni Watch-type stuff, but this year’s unattractive spring training jersey, presumably something MLB mandates so they can sell more schmatas, has no number on the front, just the script Mets. Save for Turning Back The Clock and such, I do believe the wearing of these will mark the first time since 1964 that the Mets will take the field in any kind of competition numberless to the camera. Are they trying to tell us that every player is essentially interchangeable? Is this the laundry-rooting argument getting its best test in generations? Or did somebody just forget to iron the 47 onto Glavine’s top?
Glavine without filter. Give our longest tenured Met credit for this: he’s honest. His whole spiel Friday that he wants his 300th this season and then he’s likely retiring didn’t contain a word devoted to “and of course I want to help the team go all the way.” He’s in it for Tom Glavine. Fine. I long ago understood that pitchers, what with their own private W and L collections, are extreme individuals in a team sport. And the more wins Glavine gets as a Met, the more wins the Mets get. But maybe just a little lip service to the cause?
Park with confidence. Chan Ho isn’t buying any of our rationalizations that he’s catastrophic pitching insurance. He says he’s the third starter. I’m so crazed by the cold and the lack of proof to the contrary that I’m willing to believe him. It’s still February.
Aaron without space. Did I see something about Heilman not having a parking spot? How’s that for a metaphor for the rotation and his forever circling its lot? Except for giving up the most damaging opposition home run since Brian Jordan, Aaron’s a fine reliever. It’s not like they converted him to a valet.
Wagner with alibi. He now says he wasn’t right last year. Strange ethic, the pitcher’s code. You can never admit you’re off while you’re off but after the fact, after you’ve been not quite what you were cracked up to be (Billy was usually plenty), it’s OK to come clean. Of course he wanted to arrive in ’06 and live up to his money and his billing, but as with the L-word in 2005, he might have helped the big picture come into slightly sharper focus had he taken a couple of weeks and healed that nasty finger of his. It wasn’t like he’d be loved any less than he was when he was flailing through certain ninth innings along the way.
Williams with brace. Dave Williams had neck pain. They discovered at mini-camp that it was a bulging disk (so that’s what mini-camp is good for). He had surgery. Now he’s walking around in an uncomfortable neck contraption, a forgotten face not even on the periphery of the rotation crowd. But if he hadn’t been found out —and if the rest of his teammates got neck pain watching his pitches fly out of Tradition Field — then we wouldn’t congratulate him on his stoicism. We’d just think he sucked. If the staff comes together, he remains forgotten. But if it’s a work in progress when he recuperates by mid-year, he could very well be another Dave Williams, the guy who came out of nowhere last summer to twirl a couple of high-quality starts. It helps to get healthy.
Schoeneweis with an e. Three e’s, actually. It’s the second one that surprised me when I tried to type it the other day. He joins McIlvaine, for whom I often forget the small i, and the enemy Schuerholz, whose first u eludes me, in my first circle of Met Spell.
Jose with David. The kids showed up ahead of their positional cohort. Nothing wrong with that.
Clubhouse without Lastings. It was noted the other day by the Journal News‘ John Delcos on his LoHud Mets blog that Lastings Milledge did not report early, early by definition being before you’re supposed to be there (unless you’re Tom Coughlin). Delcos called it “just an observation,” which is what blogs are chock full of. He also observed that Wright was already mowing the grass and smoothing the dirt and doing all those swell David things, implying by juxtaposition in the same entry that Lastings Milledge is not up to snuff if he’s not following in The David’s footsteps. I’m not sure what the actions of one player have to do with those of another even if one is considered beatific and the other suspected of god knows what. As more than one of Delcos’ readers have already responded, just an observation.
Reporters with blogs. What was novel in 2006 seems to have become required writing in 2007. The Post, the Times, the Record and WFAN’s Eddie Coleman have joined their beat brethren as bloggers. They all figure to be as newsy as one can be in Spring Training and generally break stuff quicker than traditional newspapers (even their online editions) will allow. More work for them, more stuff for us; the Met consumer benefits. That said, I’m not sure I needed to read yesterday that Mark Hale was hoping to find a place to watch Cornell play basketball against Penn, just as I’m not sure you need to read many of my non-Mets tangents. The devil resides in the details, but it occurs to me if I were being paid to wander the fields of St. Lucie, I wouldn’t be thinking or blogging anything but what I see there, not when I’d have tens of thousands of potential readers back in New York who are sick to death of college basketball and everything else that’s been wasting our valuable sports time since October. Baseball, gentlemen. Welcome to our side of the street.
Florida without warmth. I hear it’s unseasonably chilly at camp. But as long as there are Mets ensconced there for the next six weeks, then it feels like it’s 72 degrees in my head…all the time.