Thursday, March 31, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame...

You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen. 
Joe DiMaggio

Today is the most important day of the is Opening Day.  And while it is said that today everyone has a chance, as a Mets fan, I know this not to be true.  That doesn't matter.  Above being a Mets fan, I am a baseball fan.  So, while I know in my heart the Mets will falter, likely embarrassingly so, I hold out hope for a wonderful baseball season.  It begins today.

I recall opening day in my Little League meant a parade.  We would start on the southern tip of the island (of Staten) and march every single team  (probably 60 teams) to the field where everyone would crowd the outfield of the DeYoung Field and listen to the national anthem and some director from little league HQ's give a speech.  It was fun.  However, in 2005, after 17 years of organized ball, I hung up my cleats.  Now Opening Day is strictly about the big guys.

Baseball has always been my life.  It is my favorite sport to watch, favorite to play, favorite to talk/argue about, and favorite to attend.  It is both a thinking mans game and the physically hardest to do.  Physicists have written that hitting a moving round ball with a round bat squarely is the hardest single achievement in sport.  My sinking batting average as pitchers got better, as well as my transformation from a lead off batter to a relief pitcher, can attest to that fact.

Me, two hours after the Mets lost the last game at
Shea Stadium and therefore missed the playoffs.
Notice the guys 10 rows down doing the same thing as me.
Some of the most fun or moving moments of my life have been spent at a baseball game.  I once watched a Yankee game from the dugout while sitting next to Chip and Dale.  I once saw John Olerud hit for the cycle.  I ran around the bases at both Shea and Yankee stadium...neither of which exist any more.  I was at the first baseball game in New York City after 9/11 when the Mets defeated the Braves on a 8th inning Mike Piazza go-ahead HR that made all 55 thousand people cry.  I attended the final games at both Shea and Yankee Stadiums.  

The sun slowly setting on the last game at Yankee Stadium.
I may hate this team, but I will always love this stadium.
It is a long season, and yes, during the Summer, especially seeing as how the Mets are usually fading at that point, I do lose interest for a short time.  But once September kicks into gear and I have to root against the Yankee and the Phillies, and for the Cubbies and the Twins, I get back into it.  And the World Series is easily the greatest thing ever.

Alright, a little business right now.  Prediction time.

AL East:  Boston Red Sox
AL Central:  Detroit Tigers
AL West:  Texas Rangers
AL Wildcard:  Minnesota Twins

NL East:  Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central:  St. Louis Cardinals
NL West:  San Francisco Giants
NL Wildcard:  Cincinnati Reds

World Series:
Boston Red Sox over Philadelphia Phillies in 7.

The Cardinals will overcome their injuries and barely fight off the young Reds for the NL Central.  The Red Sox will cruise with the best team in baseball.  The Rangers will fight off the pesky resurgent Angels.  And the Twins will have their annual September surge into the playoffs.

The Phillies will dominate the NL all year.  The Giants will not be dominant but will win in a very weak division.  The Reds will surprise a few by competing for the Central, but will settle for the Wildcard.  The Tigers will pull away late.

The Yankees will not make the playoffs.  They cannot do it with only 2 pitchers (Hughes and Sabathia) and if they want Felix Hernandez mid year they are likely going to have to give up Hughes...which still leaves them with 2 pitchers.  

The World series will be offense versus pitching at it's purest.  The Red Sox stout lineup (with the possible mid-season addition of the current Mets SS Jose Reyes) pinned up against the 4 aces of the Phillies staff. It will go 7, but the Red Sox will win because of Josh Beckett out dueling Roy Halladay, as Mr. Beckett typically steps up his game in the post-season.  

Take all that to the sports book in Vegas.

Let's Go Mets! (I USED to sound just like these kids and their accents)


blunt delivery said...

speaking of opening day. there is none other than that at Wrigley Field.

Please tell me you've been there.

and then please tell me you've had a Wrigley Field hot dog.


JoshueTree said...

Sadly my dear I have not done either of those things. It is my biggest baseball regret. I think it would be my favorite stadium ever. (sorry fenway folk).