Saturday, February 23, 2013

Joey's Soapbox: Hope Springs Eternal As Winter Ends

Hi, everyone!  I'm Joey Beartran.  Did you miss me?  If you can believe it, I haven't written anything for this site in over two months.  But like the groundhog, I just popped my head out of my hoodie and declared that winter's over and spring has arrived.  And how do I know that?  Because Mets baseball is back and on the air!

When we last saw the Mets, R.A. Dickey was picking up his 20th victory in the Mets' last home game and Scott Hairston was hitting his career-high 20th HR in the regular season finale.  At that point, I should have had 20/20 vision and clearly seen that neither of them would play in a Mets uniform again.  And I would have been right, as Dickey was traded to Toronto for the man with a large P on his back and Hairston signed a free agent contract to lose repeatedly in Chicago.

Since Dickey and Hairston played their last games in New York (as well as Jason Bay, Andres Torres, Ronny CedeƱo and a bunch of relief pitchers), I've done many baseball-related activities to keep active with the sport I love.

Are you ready for some Mets baseball?  I sure am!

In November, I went out to Seattle with my sister Iggy.  We took an awful tour of Safeco Field and attended a Seattle Seahawks game.  It wasn't the tour of Safeco that was awful; it was the tour guide.  I actually think Safeco is a beautiful stadium and can't wait to see Jason Bay suck there as much as he did at Citi Field.  At least he'll have company in Seattle, as his teammate from 2010 (Oliver Perez) is already a rusty staple in the Mariners bullpen.

In December, I wrote a letter to Sandy Claus asking for a number of presents underneath my blue and orange tree.  I asked for an upgrade to the bullpen (supposedly accomplished), a set outfield by Opening Day (Sandy Claus must have ignored that one), the re-signing of Scott Hairston (denied), Johan Santana making more than 21 starts (perhaps that's why he's missing time now rather than in the regular season), a dependable fifth starter in the rotation (thank you for Shaun Marcum) and patience with the team's minor league talent (I'll be patient as I await Sandy's decision on that).

In January, I was invited to attend a Q & A session with the Mets front office at Citi Field.  At this event, I met a man who bore a striking resemblance to Sandy Claus, but it couldn't have been him.  If it had been, I'm sure he would have mentioned receiving my letter when I asked him to pose for a photo with me.

Where are my presents, Sandy Claus?  I've been looking everywhere for them!

The calendar has now flipped to February.  Pitchers, catchers, infielders and a plethora of wannabe outfielders have descended upon the newly-renamed Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie for six weeks of spring training.  After nearly two weeks of hitting and fielding drills, as well as sharpening up those "fundies", the Mets will finally play an actual game against another major league team, taking on the division rival Washington Nationals today at noon on SNY.

This winter has been a harsh one for Mets fans and people in the Northeast in general.  We've seen a massive snowstorm.  We've seen the defection of our best pitcher and our slugging outfielder to other teams via a trade and free agency.  We've seen Jason Bay and Bobby Bonilla become our highest paid outfielders despite Bay taking his hustle and ineptitude to the Pacific Northwest and Bonilla not giving up his day job of being a Bronx tour guide.  We've seen it all this winter, but none of it matters anymore.  And why is that?

Because today we're seeing the Mets take the field.

It's time for this ice to melt away.  The Mets are back and they're here to stay!

It doesn't matter how much you think the Mets aren't going to compete this year.  It's irrelevant if you think the only race the Mets will be involved in is the race to finish ahead of the Marlins in the NL East.  Today, everyone is on the same page.  Today, no one player is better than any other player.  Today, the Mets play ball again.  And our hope springs eternal as another long, hard winter comes to an end.

Are you ready for some Mets baseball?  I've been ready since last October.  Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks (and an order of chicken nachos).  I'm so glad the Mets are back!


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