Thinking along the lines of “fewer clients, less money” got Jerry Maguire booted from Sports Management International, but I’ll dare to express one of The Things We Think And Do Not Say:
Spring Training shouldn’t have started so soon. Too many Spring Training baseball games in February are unnatural. Too many Spring Training baseball games in February are just wrong.
February is no longer day to day. It is outta here, like a lamb with a quad muscle that bears watching. The Mets have been playing baseball games that don’t count since Friday, February 23, preparation for their playing baseball games that will count on Thursday, March 29. The hubris of too-soonishness is splattered all over the calendar.
Oh, I’ll take it if they’re giving it to me. I’ll take it on March 29 as I’ve taken it since February 23, tuning in wherever the Mets have wandered as they’ve attempted to find themselves. SNY…Channel 11…WOR…the Braves radio feed, even. The Atlanta radio guys aren’t bad, although one sounds like a sober Jim Brockmire and both talk way too much about the Braves. I’m a Mets fan, and if it has something to do with Mets baseball, I’m digging in. Yet I know what I’ve been digging into is half-baked and consumed at one’s own risk, like some ill-advised chicken tenders I dug into at Shea one long-ago August night.
But at least it was in August. That’s one of the baseball months for real. February has its place. February prepares us for March. March prepares us for April through October, maybe November if we’ve been good. February is not traditionally part of the recommended yearly allowance of baseball games. Another example of the FDA falling down on the job.
There was a February baseball game this week interrupted by an hour of rain and eventually given over to hours of No. 96es meandering through the motions, as if it was already March 10 or thereabouts, meaning our meaninglessness clocks are all off-kilter. Keith Hernandez was so antsy to leave, he was publicly swearing off cocktails. Gary Cohen had his bags packed for college basketball duty. Hardly anybody was in the stands. No manager or coach was making a personnel decision based on anything transpiring in their midst. They could have run instructional league footage and we wouldn’t have known the difference.
Running instructional league footage in December, on the other hand, is a capital programming idea.
I get the feeling the baseball gods are offended by our accelerated pace of play and, as punishment, have inflicted a slew of early injuries on one Met after another. An outbreak of everything wasn’t supposed to happen this year, what with all our new trainers and protocols and fresh supplies of gauze. Nothing serious. It never is in February. A shoulder here, a lower back there, pulls and pains from the tops of legs to the bottom of feet. And those are just the nicks the Mets have reported. Noah Syndergaard clearly had a shirtectomy. Steven Matz is afflicted by a lingering case of Setauket. Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki have been diagnosed as ragingly adequate. Hansel Robles reportedly can still point skyward. The spirit of Ray Ramirez lingers in the St. Lucie atmosphere.
An optimist would say it was a good idea getting the Mets into baseball shape early because Mets baseball shape inevitably involves injuries. An optimist would discern recovery time has started ahead of schedule. An optimist would declare DeGrom, Cespedes, Bruce, Smith, Lagares, Swarzak and Tebow (sure, why not?) will all be fine sooner because they’re not so fine now. That, I’m optimistically telling myself, is the utility of baseball in February, though I won’t be telling it for too many more hours, because March is lion in wait.
And March, when spring traditionally becomes Spring, is the first month of the rest of our year.