Monday, February 20, 2012

So, Bad News. Pitchers and Catchers Are Reporting Today.

So, let's get one thing straight here. A little over two weeks ago, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl. That was pretty awesome. Far be it from me to get greedy. I'm quite thankful. As most of you know, my fandom for the Giants is usually less characterized by arrogance than anxiety, the sweet, sentimental kind detailed here, and thus proving I'm not the only one. This all means that when the Giants win a Super Bowl, I'm in a pretty good mood for quite a while. Add into that the Devils' recent hot streak, which has catapulted them up to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings as of this morning, Northwestern being roughly even money to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever, and the Lintacular Liminociously Linsome Lun of Lictories by the Lew Lork Licks -- all unfortunate racial slurs aside -- and things are looking pretty good for me sports-wise at the moment.

But if there's one thing that can bring all that joy down to Earth, it's this: Mets pitchers and catchers report today.

This, really, is too bad. Days when I was younger I was typically overjoyed to see that baseball was only six or so weeks from being under way, but now, with this team and its likely struggle over the coming 2012 season, I have little excitement and only depression over the impending 162-game gauntlet. There is a chance multiple Cy Young-winner Johan Santana may actually be healthy for the majority of the season, and if he is, a rotation that includes Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and R.A. Dickey isn't really that bad, to say nothing of minor leaguers like Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey waiting in the wings. Throw in there that David Wright might finally be a 30-home run guy again because the walls in Citi Field were moved in from their resting spot in LaGuardia Airport, perhaps a resurgence for Jason Bay and the return of a healthy Ike Davis and the middle of the lineup doesn't look half bad. Throw in a rebuilt bullpen from the offseason and maybe this team can compete, right?

Oh hell, who am I kidding?

All of the information I just gave you is a ton of prayerful, biased drivel for a team that seems destined to wind up in fourth place of the National League East if it's lucky. And with its financial future considerably murky as the Wilpons stubbornly refuse to sell their controlling stake in the team despite having absolutely no money whatsoever, there is little reason, if any, to actually believe this team will be competitive again before I have children.

Frankly, if there is reason to believe they'll compete again before I have children, I probably have bigger concerns to worry about than baseball.

Given all of this, I've realized that my time throughout most of this baseball season is likely better spent a) vacationing in places far away from any baseball market (i.e. Scandinavia) so I can catch up with my favorite family and b) investing my energy in far more worthwhile pursuits. Of all the things I've been able to get excited about with the coming baseball season, and there aren't many, the only thing that has given me genuine joy is buying this totally awesome shirt, which if you don't understand, proves you didn't grow up going to Shea Stadium, and even that thing fit a little too snugly when it arrived.

Essentially, it looks like the 2012 baseball season is destined to have me only pining for the seasons of old, even if the most exciting ones happened before I was cognizant of baseball. If much of the upcoming campaign will be spent with Mets fans looking at the past wistfully, and I think it will be, the Mets themselves seem to already realize it. Essentially, collecting those bobbleheads is the only cause I have for excitement this season.

That said, if the bad times make you remember the good ones, it probably isn't the worst thing ever. Given the recent passing of Gary Carter last week, looking back at the memories of great seasons past is an apropos decision. Such was noted by, of all organizations, the Montreal Canadiens last night. For the Canadiens to have a memorial service honoring Carter isn't all that crazy. He spent 12 seasons in Montreal playing for the Expos and was the first Spo ever to wear their cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. Given that the Expos have since moved on down to Washington, the Canadiens have become the de facto authority for paying homage to Montreal's since departed Major League franchise. Such has been the way it has gone about its business in the past. The Expos' retired numbers now hang in the Bell Centre as a part of a ceremony that Carter and Andre Dawson participated in in 2005, and citing fan demand the Canadiens have since adopted the Expos' admittedly bizarre, but lovable mascot Youppi!. I don't particularly like the Habs, but they had an extremely classy tribute to Carter last night, having each player skate during warmups in an 8 Gary Carter jersey before showing a video montage in his honor on the jumbotron.

Amazingly, the moment of the tribute that affects me most is when Youppi! steps onto the ice wearing a Gary Carter jersey and bows its head in a moment of silence. The mascot kept its old colors on for the rest of the night.

I've made it extremely clear that I have very few hopes for the Amazins this season. But I keep hoping because I'm a hopeless baseball-mantic. It's unlikely, but who knows? Maybe with a little luck the 2012 New York Mets can inspire some memories like Carter did.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

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