I’m having so much fun with spring training baseball, I’m sticking with it. On Friday I watched two of the Mets’ best prospects, Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario, enter an exhibition mid-way and lash hits (off a shell-shocked kid pitcher, to be sure.) They looked so confident -- the way Gary Sanchez did when he arrived with the Yankees during last season. (How nice for them.) This is the stuff of spring training. Some of them are strictly March pheenoms – who’s old enough to remember massive Clint Hartung of the New York Giants a zillion years ago? But sometimes young players are the real thing. Smith plays first base and Rosario plays shortstop. Gary Apple and Ron Darling on SNY-TV were chattering about how both were being groomed for 2018 – but maybe sooner, depending, etc. What baseball fan does not love this kind of talk? It sustains me in March. For the moment, I can even shut out the image of the blundering lout somebody elected president. Go Dominic Smith. Go Amed Rosario. Go Gary Sanchez.
* * *
We live on a flyway, between two bays. The other morning I went outside and heard honking – hundreds of geese, flying high, moving fast, in a V formation, heading north.
These guys must know something, I thought. And sure enough, the geese were soon followed by ball games, on the radio and on the tube, from a warmer place.
Bread and circuses? It’s time for diversion – baseball, even better than the caloric Hershey Kisses being ingested by the very funny Joyce Wadler in her Sunday column in the Times. (You know whom she blames for her chocolate binge: her mom…and Trump.)
I got something healthier for you. My email from my friend Big Al said:
Yanks-Phils 1 PM on YES. Life begins anew.
Big Al is a Yankee fan. What can I say?
I found the first Mets game on the radio Friday while idling in the horrendous traffic at LaGuardia Airport. The Mets brought mostly a B squad to Fort Myers, but there was Howie Rose with his haimish accent, straight-from-the-upper-deck-at-Shea.
Howie was filling us in on the 11 Mets who will be playing in the Baseball Classic, the world-cup-for-hardball, in March, including Ty Kelly playing for Israel. (Read Hillel Kuttler’s piece: Kelly’s mom is Jewish.)
It was delightful to sit in traffic with something important to think about that did not involve mental health and ineptitude and malice – the depth of the Mets’ system that has decent players like Kelly and T.J. Rivera scrambling for spots. Rooting for underdogs is so very baseball, so very New York.
Time for a viewing of the 2017 Mets. On Saturday, my pal Gary and I sat in his living room and watched on SNY as the Mets played a home exhibition in 86-degree Port St. Lucie.
The first treat was hearing the broadcasters, Gary Cohen and Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, the familiar banter and expertise.
As is only normal we heard about other preoccupations – Seton Hall basketball for Cohen, a delightful 1-year-old son for Darling, and a bad knee that may require replacement for Hernandez. The docs better make sure Hernandez can still scoop up a bunt and fire to third base.
But enough about the main act. There was also the undercard -- the 2017 Mets, a work in progress. Lucas Duda was missing because of injections into his aching hips. Jacob DeGrom was sporting a totally hideous mustache that negates his flowing hair and beatific smile. Good old David Wright, in yet another comeback, hit a fly ball and later beamed as he talked about his 1-year-old son.
Washington brought along some A-List sluggers, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, and lifer manager Dusty Baker in the dugout, working his toothpick.
A moment of terror as the Mets’ Kevin Plawecki had his knee put into reverse in a home-plate collision, followed by at least a dozen horrifying replays and relieved applause as he hobbled off the field, (Update: x-rays negative, better than could have been imagined.)
The broadcasters did what they do best. They digressed, about the new rule that allows an automatic base on balls. Darling pronounced it “nothing.” Better they install a time clock for pitchers.
Hernandez and Darling bickered over the use of colored grease pens for cast-of-thousands exhibitions. Cohen presided with a paternal sigh.
My pal and I watched the entire three-hour marathon. The players. The manager and coaches. The broadcasters. The fans – no politics in evidence – watching the long game. Life under the flyway, enjoying the first honks of spring.
2/26/2017 11:24:38 am
Thanks for the nice summary update and welcome alert that it's time to play ball! Mets, Yanks and Red Sox all on TV today for me. Goodbye and good riddance to Sunday news shows!
2/26/2017 11:51:44 am
Brian, thanks. Wait, there are Sunday news shows? how long has this been going on? g
2/26/2017 01:19:27 pm
I agree, rooting for the underdog is what spring training is all about. Spent what seemed like many years as a child wondering why outfielder Darren Reed, nicknamed "Mr. Spring Training" never made the team after looking like a power threat every March during the late 1980s.
2/26/2017 02:35:03 pm
Mickey: thanks for replying. I remember Reed.
3/1/2017 08:35:02 pm
2/28/2017 08:31:31 pm
Our favorite GV, Mc Kechnie Field, is no more, now named for some unknown private college, which shall be nameless forever, like National Airport in DC. Turns out the Pirates and other teams own the naming rights to sell, not Bradenton. As far as I know Ms. Amway doesn't own the school. 😔 sigh.
3/1/2017 03:14:13 pm
Ed, thanks for the bad news. Just do what I do about the Mets' park: I call it New Shea or "the Mets' park." People ought to cherish names like Shea and McKechnie.
3/3/2017 07:22:44 pm
3/4/2017 08:56:56 am
I am happy to report, from my commute on the Flushing Line, that the MTA has it right (mostly). The name of the stop is "Mets - Willets Point," from the perspective of both the signs and the recorded subway announcements.
3/1/2017 07:38:17 pm
3/1/2017 07:49:42 pm
Bruce, although I'd love to agree with you, I''m forced to ask whether you mean sober, vel non, and two knees or one?
3/1/2017 08:09:05 pm
3/2/2017 08:46:39 am
Bruce: oddly, today is 48th anniversary of Mantle retirement. I was there. And Big Al reminded me. I was around Mantle and can appreciate the awe. GV
3/2/2017 08:50:54 am
Brian and Bruce: Big Al is my Queens bud. When he really wants to get me, out of nowhere, he asks me just how good in October was Yoggalah. Ouch!
3/2/2017 08:53:28 am
3/2/2017 08:59:27 am
3/4/2017 09:20:51 am
Bruce, in my limited goyische sense of Yiddish, I believe the Yoggalah is a diminutive or affectionate nickname....very New York, Bubbeleh, little Grandma. My Mexican friend's mother was Mamita.
3/3/2017 07:27:32 pm
Duke Snider! Duke was cool, boo Jints, boo dam Yankees. Don't confuse me with the facts, I watch Fox sports.
3/4/2017 02:34:46 pm
I became a Yankee fan in 1940 at the age of five and enjoyed many exciting years until the “BOSS” fired Yogi after winning the 1964 World Series. That was when I stopped following the Yankees.
3/4/2017 02:53:58 pm
3/4/2017 03:28:58 pm
Bruce. You are correct. They lost to the Cards in seven games.
3/4/2017 03:36:58 pm
3/4/2017 04:35:57 pm
The next time the Yankees made it to the series was 1976.
3/4/2017 04:39:08 pm
3/4/2017 05:56:33 pm
Thanks for all the great comments. I need to note that Steinbrenner did not arrive til 1973., The Yanks were sold in Aug. 1964 by Topping/Webb to CBS consortium led by Mike Burke. Burke was a great guy, one of my favorite people in NY sports, on a personal basis, but he scuttled Yogi...and shortly after scuttled Red Barber. GV
3/5/2017 03:12:00 pm
3/6/2017 02:07:07 pm
It took me awhile to realize what was going on as I was getting these email alerts about this blog and I assumed it was old stuff. Not at all. This is a living, breathing NYT-style article that started out interesting and just gets more interesting as it gets updated with additional news and entertaining comments. Finally, I get it, and for the first time see the value of social media!! (I hear some President somewhere might have gotten the epiphany earlier than me, but I suspect I'm having a ton more fun.) I think the Major League Baseball channel on cable is covering the World games and I'll be rooting for Kelly. Two of the smartest, funniest guys I've known are Jewish/Irish mugs, but I never saw either of them ever swing a bat. I'll keep my eyes on Kelly and see what I could have been missing if we all had met up in ball playing years. He looked pretty darn good in the one game I saw.
3/6/2017 04:54:08 pm
Brian: Israel 2, South Korea 1. opening game.
Comments are closed.
“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.