Okay, so we didn’t expect the first week of spring to give us a substantial snowfall. Kudos to you, Mother Nature, for keeping us on our toes.
But we need to keep in mind what’s really happening here: the days are indeed longer, thanks to daylight savings time, and (at some point) the temperatures will begin to climb. And most importantly, the calendar is nearing the end of March.
You’re probably thinking, ‘So, what?’
That means it’s baseball season. And this local news site editor couldn’t be more thrilled.
See, I’m a New York Mets fan. Okay, I’ll give you a few seconds to stop–or at least curtail–your laughter. This season doesn’t look too promising for the blue and orange. In sports we call it a ‘rebuilding period’ although it’s really just a veiled phrasing for ‘we’re not a very competitive ballclub.’
But that won’t stop me–or any diehard Mets fan–from watching or attending as many games as possible this year.
And it won’t stop us fans from railing on the team for poor play on the field, awful decision-making in the front office, and all the other supposed rites of passage taken on by sports lovers in the tri-state area.
Fans of teams in the New York metro area are by far the most passionate you’ll find in the sports world, aside from soccer hooligans on other continents. Collectively, I believe we’re the most informed, entrenched, and overall cranky fans on the planet.
Between April and October, it’s pretty easy to tell how the Mets are playing by engaging in a brief conversation with me. If I say, “Hey, how ya doing?!” it usually means the team is on a slight winning streak. A simple “Hey.” likely means the team is performing as I expect them to, which is terribly.
So if you see Long Valley Patch’s editor roaming the streets of town and want to know how the Mets look at that time, just say hello.
But I have to admit, the best part about baseball (for those who don’t cheer for perennial winning teams) has to be Opening Day. There’s nothing more beautiful in sports, to me, than the pop of a catcher’s mitt in the season’s first meaningful game, the roar of a crowd after the first homerun of the year, and the fantastical thought that your team’s got a shot at winning it all.
Opening Day, regardless of how awful your team may be, is a clean slate of opportunity. Maybe we aren’t that bad, you think to yourself after the infielders smoothly turn a double play to get out of a jam. Well this guy is pretty decent, you say, after the team’s off-season acquisition has a three-hit game to start the year.
It’s not just the beginning of another sports season, but a reminder of your childhood; associating smells and scenes from years gone by with team superlatives–or downfalls.
I remember kneeling in front of the TV, with my face buried in my hands on a humid October night when Carlos Beltran struck out to end Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. I called out sick from work the next day.
I can also remember how I felt (not good) when Roger Clemens beaned my favorite Met of all-time, Mike Piazza, in the head, in July of 2000. I wanted to jump into Piazza’s body and take out Clemens myself (once consciousness was restored, that is).
Or that same season, jumping up and down like a child in my living room, just like centerfielder Timo Perez did while catching the final out to put the Mets into the World Series against the Yankees.
Side note: Keep in mind, my live baseball viewing days may be shorter than others, considering I was barely out of diapers the last time the Mets won a World Series.
The point is, baseball holds a place in a fan’s heart and mind like no other sport can. And a new season means more memories to add to one’s life.
Author Alexander Pope coined the phrase Hope spring eternal, which is widely interpreted as despite knowing the outcome, man continues to hope for the best outcome. And Opening Day is the perfect embodiment of that thought.
So, to my fellow baseball fans, I wish you the best of luck this season, and I hope you enjoy the next seven months of sport and sun as much as I do.