An awesome start to MLB 2017

In 2003, I spoke prophetic words to my young family at the start of the MLB season: “I’m really going to get into it this year. Really immerse myself; watch all the games, keep score. Really have fun with it.” My team, the Florida Marlins, would go on to have the most unlikely of seasons imaginable, culminating in a World Series Championship no one expected. After the Florida Marlins were annihilated a few years later–and apparently regurgitated by a cat who swallowed a parrot to morph into the multicolor eyesore that is the Miami Marlins–and all their fans disowned by Jeffrey Loria’s halfpint stepson, I have been unable to fully engage in another season. I tried a few times, and I’ve enjoyed the postseason but my heart hasn’t been in it. Lest you think I’m alone in turning away from my former team’s reincarnation as something dreamt up while looking through a kaleidoscope, allow me to illustrate the degree to which ownership alienated its dedicated fanbase.

Three of my four offspring were born into Marlins fanship. My twins attended games as infants while my first girl blew bubbles in the stands to entertain them. They were season ticket holders, they traveled to Chicago decked out in their Marlins gear to see the Fish play at Wrigley. They were at every playoff game in 2003 and all three home games for the 2003 World Series against the NY Yankees. My kids were fans. Today, as young adults, not a one follows the Miami version of the team, who display their peacock colors at Arroz con Frijoles Field. I didn’t sour them on the team; ownership did that on their own. We’ll always have the memories of that magical season we lived through together in 2003, but that team is no more, so there need be no sadness that we haven’t hitched our tamale trucks to the Little Havana Fish. It’s not our team and never was.

This season, I again declared my commitment to the season, having spent the offseason following the NY Mets on Facebook and Twitter in preparation. I have watched every game thus far and have been treated to some awe inspiring and dramatic baseball action, typically reserved for late season contenders. The most recent series against the aforementioned Marlins just ended, and while the Mets lost 3 of 4, I feel anything but despondent about it. The games were a joy to experience and I can humbly state I feel privileged to have seen them. Extra innings, walk off wins, come from behind victories in the late innings and phenomenal plays at the plate seemingly in every game. The early season has brought me joy, which I haven’t had from a MLB season in many years. I’m grateful to my anonymous pirate brethren who supply the live streams that allow me to see every game in beautiful high def. Having enjoyed these first few series so much, I have decided to spend the little discretionary cash I have to see my boyhood team when they play in Atlanta’s shiny new ballpark. I’d love to see them at their home ballpark in Flushing, but that may be a bridge too far.

I’ll close with a shock to my system from a game the other night that I haven’t quite recovered from. Gary Cohen, who calls a flawless game by the way, read a graphic on the screen commemorating the 50th anniversary of Mets great Tom Seaver’s Major League debut, which occurred 50 years ago that evening. I was getting up from my couch at the moment and stopped in my tracks. That can’t be right…. 50 years?! I watched Tom Seaver pitch as a boy. He was my favorite pitcher for my Mets, and I would watch alone on the couch wearing my Mets cap and throwing a ball into a glove for the entirety of the game. “I can’t believe they screwed that up,” I thought. “50 years would mean Seaver debuted in 1967…” Every once in awhile you get smacked in the face by old man time, and that was a jackhammer right hook to the jaw of my 53-year old face. Yes, my childhood hero pitched half a century ago and I watched him doing it from the couch in my New Jersey home. I’m that old.

Let’s Go Mets!

Offense and Defense

The wife surprised me by putting on the MLB Network in the bedroom last night in lieu of her usual fare of murder investigations. I’m always amused at how people can make a living by putting on a nice suit, sitting at a table and talking about sports, but there they were, ranking the best catchers in MLB right now. It was an interesting list but what I found really intriguing is how easily they discussed human beings as if they were prize farm animals or perhaps top shelf race horses. The players knees were discussed, the health of their respective shoulders, their age, their background and whether they’d proven themselves worthy yet based on consistency of performance. The only thing missing was checking their teeth.

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I suppose when millions of dollars are at stake, you have to look at your investment as just that, and if they’re young when you acquire them, you should look to the parents to see if the lad comes from good stock. I imagine DNA testing would be very beneficial at some point if science could tell MLB owners what genetic profiles to look for, or which genetic mutations would increase the probability of an injury shortened career. Perhaps the saddest part of the discussion was when the analysts mused on whether the players had peaked and were now headed toward a declining spiral.

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Denials

Just as we have come to expect the occasional announcement of professional athletes implicated in illicit drug use, designed to enhance their athletic performance, we should come to expect the denials that follow. Today, the Miami New Times broke a story about a DEA investigation of a Miami clinic linked to illegal distribution of human growth hormone and testosterone. Numerous MLB players’ names were included in the story as possibly being connected to the clinic. Immediately, players denied using these drugs, either directly or through their agents, spokesmen or team officials.

 

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The Offseason

Since I just decided recently to take up this task, mostly because I like writing, making websites and am returning to MLB after a one-year hiatus, I hadn’t given a lot of thought to what I will be writing about. I certainly don’t plan to engage in game summaries or analysis of off-season roster moves and free agent dealings. There are plenty of places where one can read these types of things and I bring no particularly expertise to those issues. I do think it’ll be interesting to get to know to my boyhood team again, the NY Mets, after so many long years have passed.

In 1986, when the Mets would come back from the brink of annihilation, thanks in part to the Curse of the Bambino, I was working at UPS in the unload section at the Miami International Airport. As I slaved away in what was the worst job I’ve ever had, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that the Mets had won the World Series. I remember pausing with a box in my hand, sweat dripping onto my steel-toed boots and thinking, “wow, my Mets won the World Series.” The sad part was that I didn’t even know they were in the Series. I don’t recall exactly when I stopped caring about MLB, but it was some time during my teenage years when I had given up the dream of being a baseball player and had moved onto the dream of being a rock star. I was too cool for baseball and moving to Miami from Long Island in 1980 pretty much sealed the deal as there was nothing in Miami that even remotely suggested to a newly arrived teenager that MLB was a thing.

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