And so, the inevitable Spring Fever has set in again, as images of Mets cavorting in sun-soaked Port St. Lucie pour in and the season seems to have stalled in its advance. It happens every year, but that doesn’t make it any less unbearable.
Spring games start a week from yesterday; practically nothing. And yet, as it always seems to do, time has slowed down, and I just know that this next week, one of the most unbearable of the year, will take just about as long as the entire 2015 season, the greatest seven month period of my life so far.
The good times are gone too quickly; the bad ones are here too long. It’s the most basic tenet of childhood wisdom, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.
In six days, we’ll be watching baseball, that, even if it doesn’t count, will be miles ahead of anything else that goes on from November to early March. Until then, we’ll do more of the same: photos and videos, one after another in an unstoppable flood, all communicating the same message.
It’s Spring somewhere. There’s perfect baseball weather somewhere. Just not around you.
It’s the double-edged sword of modern technology – and by “modern,” I mean since 1960 or so. With color photography came, for the first time, accurate pictures of what we fans who were unable to make the annual pilgrimage to Florida were missing. Informal workouts, players schmoozing with fans, kids climbing the fence and catching a ball casually tossed their way by their hero. I wouldn’t know, since I’ve never been, but it’s got to be one of the most immersive baseball experiences there is; fields on all sides, dozens of players working out; major leaguers, everywhere you look.
And for those who make the trip, it’s nothing less, I have to assume, than one of those experiences whose memories last for a lifetime. But for those who don’t, it’s quite simply a protracted exercise in simultaneous blinding excitement and torture.
With every photo that comes in, we have the supreme satisfaction of seeing our Mets in action once again, just as we feel the wrenching frustration of not being able to see any more than a few cursory snapshots. Even if we can’t get to the game at Citi Field one night, we can watch every frame of every pitch on TV. Spring Training is different: it’s a unique baseball experience, but besides those who attend, none are entirely privy to its entirety.
I’ve been lobbying for a trip to Spring Training for just about as long as I can remember, which is to say about since Mike Piazza had just stopped being a routine top-five MVP finisher. We’ve still never gone. Some combination of not having time, the family being unmotivated, and everyone but myself actively not wanting to go has left me in the dust. I’ll get down there eventually, some year or another.
Some year or another. How uncertain and vague that sounds, especially when I’ll freely admit that just getting through the next week without baseball will be a chore. I’m not yet at the age where the passage of years at a time becomes inevitable: I’m still taking things one day at a time, making the most of every minute.
It’s a lifestyle that works well when you’ve got an evening to spend watching a ballgame at Citi Field, and hope to make it last a lifetime, but it’s markedly less successful when the only activity available is waiting for time to give up and move on.
But there’s only a week left, no matter how much like eons it seems, and that time will pass. It always has; it always will. And soon, it will be November again, and we’ll look back wistfully on the end of February, when Spring Training was just around the corner and we had a rollicking season to look forward to.
Because you know what they say: the grass is always greener on the other side. And never has it been more true than when it’s referring to the grass in Port St. Lucie, which, right now, is much, much greener than the grass in Providence, Rhode Island.
They’ll even out soon, though. Just give it a few weeks, and we’ll have clear skies and warm air and a light breeze that’s just perfect for baseball. And at that point, the grass that’s now dark and muddy, both literally and figuratively, will be, with Opening Day on the mind, plenty green for me.