Thoughts about our National Pastime and occasional thoughts for the Good and Welfare of the Reader (and maybe the writer)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Opening Day -- Spring Training
The first game of the spring training season is tomorrow and I will be in Seat 9, Row I, Box 13 to watch the Mets visit the Orioles.
I am (or should be) a Marlins fan, Right? I live in Marlin country; I have a 41-game ticket plan; I went to the Holiday Party and the Fan Fest. So, why am I opening the season watching the hated Mets, who will fall apart in September and lowly Orioles, a team that most observers think will lose 100 games?
One reason is that Marlins management put their tickets on sale one week later than did most of the other teams and with Orioles selling tickets and the Marlins not selling tickets, I went for it.
Yes, the economy is bad and attendance might be down and I could have waited a week. But, when things are tough, baseball seems to rise up. I have read about how, in World War II, FDR encouraged MLB to keep playing because baseball was essential for the morale of the nation. And, it was from the mound in Yankee Stadium that President Bush rallied New York after September 11th.
So, the Marlins lost me for opening day because I did not want to miss out on opening day. Did I mention that the Orioles play in a park about 20 minutes from home and the Marlins and Cardinals about a half hour further up the road? The hated Mets play a half hour beyond and another 20 minutes or so was that great shrine to spring training, the now disused Dodgertown at Vero Beach. I am going to miss going there. It was a fairly new, great ballpark in a historical setting.
Another reason why I was not all that keen to wait for the Marlins is that too many Marlins will be absent at the beginning of the spring season because they are playing on various national teams in the World Baseball Classic, an abortion of a tournament held to maximize the disruption to the US season.
From the Fish Stripes blog “Florida's biggest marquee attraction this year is All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who will be participating on the Dominican Republic squad. Closer Matt Lindstrom will represent Team USA. Mexico's squad will feature all-purpose Alfredo Amezaga and third baseman Jorge Cantu. Venezuela will have a couple of Marlins pitchers, starter Anibal Sanchez and reliever Renyel Pinto. And, Rick VandenHurk will play for the Netherlands.
That is not all bad – a lot of the younger guys will get more early playing time, but it does blunt the attraction somewhat. While Cantu is gone, we will get a good look at Gaby Sanchez, touted as the 1st baseman of the future and Emilo Bonifacio might get some playing time at shortstop.
But over and above the opportunities provided to some of the kids, The WBC creates an injury risk and, Team USA is handicapped, for example, by Jeter’s situation.
Mark Feinsand who writes about the Yankees for the NY Daily News (an odd newspaper, the sports writers are fluent in proper English, the front page writers can barely spell their own names) quoted Yankee manager Joe Girardi (another Marling management mistake) talking about Derek Jeter’s sore hamstring, “"It's awful early to be playing meaningful games. Is his hamstring bad? No. It's a little sore. Guys are going to go through sore periods during this time in spring training. That's why we do this before we start playing games."
Another reason for not liking the WBC – the Asian teams have been assembled and practicing for six weeks. The Latin American teams are coming off their winter seasons and their own regional championship. Team USA? They just got to camp last week.
But opening day is opening day and I will be there and when whoever sings the National Anthem comes to near the end and hits the “Oh,” I will shout with all the Baltimore boosters “O” and when the man in blue yells “Play Ball!,” I will sit back, sip my beer and get ready for another great season.
And, I will get to the Marlins later in the spring.