Friday, April 8, 2011

My First Day of Spring

The “Always Home and Uncool” offices will be closed today for its annual rite of spring – Opening Day of baseball season.

(Technically the season opened 8 days ago, but not at the home field for my beloved and, as usual, beleaguered, New York Mets. I’m all about location, people.)

mets 2011 opening day ticket This will mark my 17th Major League home opener: 8 for the Mets, 7 for the Texas Rangers when we were cast out in the bland Dallas suburbs by corporate America, 1 for the Baltimore Orioles in college (Joan Jett sang the National Anthem, the original President Bush tossed out the first pitch then helicoptered the heck out of there because, hey, Charm City is no Kennebunkport, Mumsy) and 1 – bleech – for the Yankees.

I say that not just because the Yankees are the “ic” in America (greed, sense of entitlement, pinstriped business attire in a park setting and – the real kick in pants – $11 beer) but because, hands down, it was the worst time I’ve ever had at a baseball game. Ever.

The year: 1991. Some friends from the newspaper I worked at asked me to the game, which was great because I had never been to the legendary Yankee Stadium and, hey – it was Opening Day!

It was also 38 degrees and damp with a wind that brought what felt like a thousand razor cuts with every gust as we sat with our feet soaking in the puddles in the upper right field deck. 

I missed the top half of the first (and a Robin Ventura home run) waiting in line at the concession for nonexistent hot dogs.

Well, they existed before I got there. Specifically five people before I got there.

Yes, the Yankees – this richest, most fabled sports franchise in baseball – if not all sports – ran out of hot dogs.

On Opening Day.

In the FIRST FREAKIN’ INNING.

(To be fair, this was not the glory days of the Steinbrenner Era. Even if you don’t know a baseball from an avocado, this will give you all you need to know: your manager is named “Stump” and though everyone calls your starting left fielder “Bam Bam," his full name is the less than intimidating Hensley Filemon Acasio Meulens.)

In the third inning I waited in line for coffee. That ran out in the previous inning. Meanwhile, I missed the Yanks rally for 4 runs.

I finally gave up on hot food or beverage and opted for beer. I took it back to my seat and, three sips in, accidentally kicked it over. Luckily, the people in front of us didn’t notice because they had come properly dressed for day in blankets and garbage bags.

Today it will be better.

Today the sun is expected to peek out from behind its winter covers over Flushing, Queens, and show us its its unkempt bed head.

Today whatever they use for mercury these days might reach the mid-50s.

Today I’ll hurry the Things out of school early and into the minivan so we can sit in traffic on the Whitestone Bridge.

Today My Love will again try to teach Thing 1 how to keep score and I’ll try to teach Thing 2 that there is more to going to the ballpark than sucking down tortilla chips covered in glowing orange glop. Undoubtedly, I'll fail again but I won’t care until tomorrow morning.

Because today …

TODAY
Today you'll dig in the closet for your glove and snap a ball into it while sipping your morning coffee.
Today as the toast comes out of the toaster, you'll still remember how to execute a perfect "pop-up" slide.
Today you'll drive to work and admonish yourself to "keep your head down" and your eye on the road.
Today your team will be in first and planning to stay there.
Today you'll end your contract holdout.
Today you'll still be able to turn the double play.
Today you won't lose a business deal in the sun.
Today you'll find yourself rotating your arm around your head to stretch the shoulder and keep it loose.
Today someone asks if you'll be at the meeting and you respond by saying, "Let's play two."
Today you spend an hour in the attic with old baseball cards and dusty Sports Illustrateds.
Today sunflower seeds strangely find their way into your back pocket.
Today you find yourself muttering something about "Bill freakin' Buckner."
Today you'll think of wearing a black suit to match the eye black.
Today you'll have the steal sign.
Today you slip up in a meeting and mention "our sales team ... vs. lefties."
Today a hot dog and peanuts for lunch will sound about right.
Today you tell a co-worker to "warm up."
Today the only strike you'll know about is above the knees and below the armpits.
Today you'll wear your jacket only on your pitching arm.
Today you'll buy two packs of gum and stuff them in the side of your mouth.
Today, during lunch, you'll wonder why Coke doesn't come in a wood can.
Today you'll scratch yourself and spit for no apparent reason.
Today you'll wonder why stirrup socks never caught on.
Today you'll be the rookie looking to make it big.
Today you'll be the wily vet with just a little something left.
Today you'll look for the AM dial on your radio.
Today your glove is hanging off the handlebars of your bike.
Today seems like a good day for an ice cream before you head home.
Today is box scores and "Baseball Tonight."
Today is Donnie Sadler and Keith Osik.
Today is Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.
Today your first coach is cheering. Still.
Today mom's watching.
Today dad's in the backyard -- with his glove.
Today it'll still be a kids' game.
Today you'll be a kid.
Today is Opening Day.

Poem: “Today” -- By Greg Shea, Copyright © 2000 The Closer

* * *

BTW, if you like talkin’ baseball (or just listening to two guys babble in-depth about it), check out “Just Talking to the Cornfield” with my pal B.E. Earl on Sunday night. Sybil Law will be there with booze and gratuitous Dave Grohl photos.

Now, PLAY BALL!

13 comments:

  1. Dude, you're the mostest!

    Thanks for the shout-out, and have a great time on Friday at the (ick) Mets home opener. I'll be sure not to root too hard against them.

    Oh, by the way...one of my best friends knows Keith Osik very well. Went to high school together or something. Osik is now coaching baseball at a local college around here.

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  2. The '86 Mets (Nails, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie, Gary Carter, watching the end of season VHS tape of highlights, the highlight of which was McDowell's hotfoots) define my pre-pubescent childhood and my relationship with my dad. Ironically, I married a Red Sox fan and had to convert as part of the marriage contract. That was 2001, pretty much just in time to see the curse lifted and to remember how great life was before puberty.

    Thanks for a great post.

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  3. Written like a true fan of the art of baseball. Hope you have/had fun. Would love to be going to opening day here as well.

    Great post. The Baseball naysayers just don't get it, do they?

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  4. So you were in Bawlmer for that opener? Wow, small world. I wasn't at the game, but I do remember it because of the prez.

    And the Mets...aw, man, you actually got me excited about baseball in general and the Mets in particular. Used to follow them pretty close back in the day...

    Good stuff, my friend, play ball!

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  5. Today the Red Sox look like the Indians from the first half of Major League.

    Have fun, happy opening day.

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  6. Been waiting with anticipation for this post. I knew they'd already played and wondered where you were.

    Here's to keeping your opening day streak alive and breathless.

    Ever notice how so many baseball terms sound dirty-minded but aren't?

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  7. Today it'll be Werth it to watch the Mets win.

    Tomorrow you'll look forward to the end of April with a vengeance.

    And Sunday you'll quote Carl Spackler while writing your own Cinderella Story.

    Enjoy this great weekend.

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  8. Oh no not you too with the Yankee bashing! But..alas...you are right. :-)

    Why the heck are you going to see the Mets? Aren't they out of it already? :-)

    Sorry to hear about your bad experience at Yankee Stadium. Have you been to the new one yet? It is beautiful.

    Next time you are in NYC, send me an email..we'll grab a beer or two.

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  9. Hubby (who I call Yankee in my blog) is a huge egalitarian in all things except baseball. He loves those buy-your-way-to-a-championship Yankees with all of his little socialist heart. He knows it's wrong, but he just can't help it.

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  10. They're trying to make Opening Day here a holiday - I'm all for it!
    Have a great time!
    And thanks for the mention - my reputation precedes me! Hope you'll be there again Sunday!
    Oh, and GO REDS!

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  11. Here in 0 - 6 Red Sox Nation we're enjoying the last couple hours in which we can still say we're "undefeated at home."

    That's about all we got.

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  12. Baseball has always been a great metaphor for life and growth. My firsts were the 1986 SF Giants and the same Camden Yards game you were at. I'm pretty sure I sat behind first there about 14 rows up.

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  13. While I don't like baseball anymore, I do remember watching it when I was little with my grandmother (she did like the -ic- Yankees, but what did I know). I just loved sitting on her lap, spending time with her and eating good food with her. Then I would fall asleep in her lap.
    I did however, like the Yankees when Bucky Dent played for them, just because he had a cute butt in his uniform.
    Hope you had a fantastic time at opening day. =)

    ReplyDelete

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