By Johnnie Carrier
Well, it’s under way. The new baseball season is upon us, and it’s time once again to profess my love of a game that I couldn’t play very well. My brother, a priest, would have told you that I was all glove and no stick. I know it doesn’t sound sexy, but let’s face it: He was right. I couldn’t hit a baseball with a Buick.
For some reason, I was unable to keep my eye on the ball. It was the curse of all the ball sports and led to my acceptance into the land of band geekdom during high school.
But that never stopped me from falling in love with the game -- the nuance and, some would say, the grace of baseball. I say that reluctantly because I’m a Mets fan, and rarely do we see the grace of the game. Mets fans see the bumble and stumble of the game. It’s been so long, we don’t even get the false hope of spring anymore. The Mets do strange things like give up a Cy Young award-winner for a kid who is an unknown, can’t-fail rookie.
It will surprise me if they actually did make a good trade. But isn’t that one of the things we love about the game? The mystery? All winter long, I have thought of these first days in April where the ball park looms brighter, the ball looks whiter and the crack of the bat is cleaner just because it’s opening day.
And this year, I get to see it all again with the MLB package. I can get every Mets game my heart can take. I’m only getting the package again this year because they gave me a price break -- a big price break. And they should for what I have to put up with. The errors, the passed balls and the fielder’s choice that kills a rally are live and in HD, all in the confines of my living room.
I know how it will start. David Wright will play hurt, and he will be unstoppable. That’s why I call him Mr. April. Wright always hits .450 in April and May. It’s after that he’ll hit .290 if we’re lucky. Our big home run guy is a kid named Ike Davis, and he’ll hit 25 dingers, but every other at-bat he strikes out. I really don’t think that is an exaggeration. He’s been caught looking more times than I have walking past the Victoria Secret store at the mall.
Why do I follow the Mets when the Yankees or the Red Sox would have done nicely? Well, way back in ‘69 I was an impressionable young man of 10, and the boys from Queens won my heart that year by winning the Worlds Series. Like some foolish men, I became smitten with an evil darkness called N.Y. Mets baseball.
The game will get interesting this year, as inter-league play will be spread throughout the season instead of confined to two weeks in June. Big Al from work tells me that a steady schedule of inter-league play will take away from the World Series. Sorry to say, but the designated hitter rule already does that.
Ah, yes, the designated hitter rule. This is why I like to follow the National League: They play real baseball. With the pitchers hitting you get to see an attention-grabbing plays and some good strategy at every late inning at bat. Plus, you tend to see fewer old guys in the National League. Guys who can still hit but can’t field anymore flock to the American League. The designated hitter rule is evil and should be eliminated from the game.
So kick up your heels and shout to the highest hilltop that baseball is back and all is right with the world. Support your team no matter who they are. Enjoy that feeling of opening day -- that feeling you got back in time when opening day meant something. When it spoke of a life less complicated, a life unencumbered by adulthood, those were the times when opening day meant something. Happy baseball season, everyone.
Johnnie Carrier is a freelance writer and was stuck out in right field because he was misunderstood.