Maybe it was the crummy weather, the depressing state of the world
economy, the slew of late withdrawals or the increased workload for
those us in editorial, but as the World Baseball Classic drew nigh, I
grew increasingly disinterested as a fan. Though I’ll sound a
pessimistic malcontent to any higher-ups who may mistakenly stumbled
across this blog (how else would they arrive here other than by
mistake?) by enumerating my skeptical knocks against the Classic, I
assure them there is a measure of redemption here, one rife with all
the right things for a young man interested in his long-term career.
The Classic, to my constantly frigid, post-economic-apocalypse self was too flawed. Pitch counts, potential injuries, player ambivalence, A-Rod. Ugh, A-Rod. First he was to play for the Dominican Republic after taking the field for Team USA in 2006, then he brought his kids to workouts (the only player to do so), then he pulls out of the Classic altogether due a hip injury that curiously went unaddressed over the offseason and conveniently allows him to dodge steroids questions.
Then, on Saturday, during my production of a lovely 17-7 Royals beat down of the Tribe in Cactus League action, I threw on Team USA’s first game, against Team Canada. Maybe it was the unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon weather in early March (mid 60s) melting the remnants of the foot of snow dumped upon us a week ago, but I was ready for this game. Dare I say, I needed it. And, as baseball has been so apt to do in my relatively young life, the game had me transfixed, as I bemoaned Jake Peavy’s squeezing by the home-plate umpire, fretted over the Yanks’ (these are the only Yankees I’ll ever root for!) early inability to mount much against journeyman hurler Mike Johnson, and wondered whether David Wright would no longer be saddled with the dreaded “unclutch” stigma if he were to collect a go-ahead hit at some point in the Classic — all of this, of course, while relaying to Royals fans that the top of their team’s order (Coco Crisp, Willie Bloomquist and David DeJesus) had combined to go 7-for-7 with a gang of runs and RBIs. That may have been the longest sentence I’ve ever written. Don’t get me wrong, by the way: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting back to producing games. But sometimes, these spring exhibitions get ug-lee.
However, I digress. My point is this: No, Team USA vs. Canada obviously wasn’t on par with Opening Day at Citi Field, or even an inconsequential regular-season game on a chilly night in early May, but it was baseball, with a fair measure of competitive spirit, and that sure as heck beats following an Indians non-roster invitee get his second at-bat in the top of the 8th of a Cactus League game on MLB.com’s live box score. When new Mets setup man J.J. Putz entered in the ninth for Team USA with a two-run lead and allowed it to shrivel down to a mere digit, I was envisioning midsummer, bullpen-induced agita — it’s part and parcel of living and dying with the Mets for as long as I have. But Putz induced a lazy fly ball from the dangerous Jason Bay, and may I add I’ve never been so relieved to see a can of corn fall safely into Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino’s glove.
The Canadian fans were certainly into it, and Team Canada’s roster boasted a lot more recognizable names than I would have thought, and by all means, it gave Team USA more than it wanted and then some, and easily could have won the game.
After watching Team USA trample Venezuela on Sunday night (I produced this uncharacteristically tidy spring affair earlier in the day), I’m ready to ride for the Yanks. Bring on Round Two at Dolphin Stadium.
I don’t mind telling you that I posted the following on a friend’s wall on Facebook:
In addition to the usual red, I am also bleeding white and blue for the duration of this tournament.
Rather than the obligatory post-Super Bowl update in which I clamor for the start of Spring Training (trust me, Spring Training is a different ball of wax for a producer than an average fan), I’ll instead relay a pre-Super Bowl experience.
Nenny and I had been dying to do something — anything — outside the box recently. What better to do on Super Bowl Saturday than trek out to Lyndhurst, N.J., to take in Medieval Times? Look, we wanted to go snowboarding, but time and financial constraints made it darn near impossible. So how did we go from snowboarding to a half-baked renaissance fair? I’m not sure, exactly. But it was certainly outside the box, at least.
But may I say, for something I hadn’t necessarily regarded as high-brow entertainment, Medieval Times puts on a heck of a show. Dancing horses, flying falcons, jousting knights and much more were all part of the performance. Forget about the entertainment: The chance to slurp soup from goblets and eat chicken and ribs from the bone with your barehands was worth the price of admission alone. That’s saying a lot for me, considering my aversion to getting grease on my hands — major OCD. OK, I could have done without plunking down $7.50 for a Sam Adams Winter Lager, but the dull buzz at last sip made the incredulity of the experience merely an ironic pang.
Nenny and I sat in the green section, where we cheered for the knight of the corresponding color in the arena. The Green Knight, as chance would have it, was the dissenting voice of the knights — the bad *** with long, greasy hair, a sparse goatee, and an attitude which pitted him as an enemy to the throne. The Green Knight — picture Orlando Bloom — was one of the better equestrians,and he even survived a couple of duels at show’s end before being done in by the formidable duo of the prince and the black and white knight. He suffered a cruel fate, but fought the valiant fight.
When we got back to town, Cousin Sam and her guy friend came over. Nenny and I told them of the experience, and, sure enough, they were roundly impressed by our spontaneity.
Last Super Bowl, I spent the day trudging through the local arboretum, snapping pictures of dead foliage while I lamented the dissolution of my long-running relationship. This year, I went to Medieval Times with a nice girl and had a good time. Here’s to progress and the sheer genius of Medieval Times’ phone number: 1-888-WE-JOUST.