I know this much about Port St. Lucie today: it was cloudy.
I wish I could say that I knew this because I was there and saw the clouds in person. Watching Noah Syndergaard tossing his bullpen, sometimes glancing over at Rafael Montero throwing behind him, and others still further back, I might have noticed that the pitchers’ shadows weren’t as well-defined as they’d been a few minutes before, and I would have looked up, and realized that clouds had hidden the sky.
But I can’t say that, because everything I know about Port St. Lucie today, I learned from a picture I looked at while I waited in line for lunch. This was around 2:00 in the afternoon, and I was still trying to shake myself dry, since it was raining outside, in addition to being far too cold. So I went on Twitter because I’d heard that there was some activity in Port St. Lucie, and sure enough, there were Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero throwing in the bullpen, although I got the feeling that the person who’d taken the photograph had really only been focused on one of them. And it was cloudy there too.
Tidbits fluttered in over the Spring Training wire all day, and most of them made me wish I was there. Some people mentioned how nice the weather was, which I thought was rude, considering what the northeast was enduring. Then there were pictures of Zack Wheeler with a beard and our big four starters in shorts, news that Wheeler had been injecting himself with some kind of bone growth drug for the last six months, and not a single sign of David Wright, which made the ache I felt when I thought about how I wanted to be there just a little bit better.
There was also an update on a bowling trip, an interview with Rob Gsellman, some arguments about Jay Bruce, and some jokes about the Yankees from Anthony Swarzak, who seems like a swell guy. After each of these, I imagined finally getting back to Citi Field. Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, the rain just refused to let up. Later in the afternoon, all of a sudden, someone mentioned baseball cards, and I found myself thinking of the blown-up cards you find all over Citi Field, hanging here and there, arranged without any sort of order. That made me think of just how badly I wanted baseball to come back, and that made me realize that Spring Training games were only a week and change away.
Here is a fact: there are 45 days until Opening Day. I know this because not long after I learned that I would be in attendance, I downloaded a countdown app and Opening Day was the first date I plugged in. There are 45 days and 11 hours, give or take, left until Thursday, March 29th at 1:00 p.m. This might sound strange until you realize that the clocks will jump ahead that extra hour exactly one month from today, and catapult us closer to baseball season.
But about those 45-days: between this moment and the first pitch of the first game of the first season of the rest of our lives, there is also an eternity. In 45 days, I will laugh when I remember what I called an eternity 45 days ago, but today, that eternity is still ahead. There’s Valentine’s Day and President’s Day and papers and stories and applications to get done, and only after all that will we catch our first glimpse of our guys on their home turf. Unless, that is, you’re going to the Mets Welcome Home Dinner, which I got an email about late last night. I noticed that there was an option to sit at a table with Noah Syndergaard, but then I saw that this option — with an inventory of one, you’d think, unless they’ve got Noah sprinting back and forth — was sold out. The table with Mickey Calloway was still available, but I didn’t think $35,000 was worth it. I scrolled down the list to find the cheapest ticket available, and saw that it was $1500, which was still about 50 times what I was willing to pay.
The price didn’t matter after I checked the date of the dinner, because I already had plans. Billy Joel is in town that night, and I’ve got two tickets and a date. And we’ve got plans the next day too. They start the moment we wake up and end when we leave Citi Field after an Opening Day win. And I thought of these plans as I sat in bed reading Emily Brontë and pining for baseball season, and knew that that the regular season would start like it does every year, and until it did, I would be just fine.