February 27, 2007


By Jonathan Elfenbein

Having been a Mets' fan for almost 40 years, I don't mind going out of my way, even far out of my way, to catch a game, even if it's an intra-squad game. That being said, I left work early today (don't worry- I own my own business) and joined a friend who has also been a Mets' fan as long as I, and together we made the trek to Port St. Lucie from the Fort Lauderdale area. Not as long a trip as David will soon be taking to get here (from California), but still a nice hour and a half drive each way. Again, all worth it to take a look at our team, hoping to both welcome in Spring a bit early, and catch some of our future stars, to boot! We were asked to make a $5 donation to watch today's scrimmage, with all funds going to charity- a nice way to start the day. We arrived around noon, after the team work-outs were done but prior to the game. Apparently, we missed O-Hern engaging in long-tossing for the first time this off-season, as he battles arthritis (and hopefully it won't be the recurring type, a la Fred Sanford/Redd Foxx!) We were particularly excited to see Mr. Humber take the mound, and in the first inning, we weren't disappointed as he looks healthy and ready to go. We were even more impressed with rookie Joe Smith, the side-winder looking to replace Chad Bradford in the Mets bullpen. After 2 decent sliders, Smith struck out Lastings Milledge on a slider so wicked it left him frozen in place. It was definitely one of the nastiest sliders we'd ever seen, and apparently Milledge agreed! Overall, there were no hits, and Carlos Beltran didn't play. so our offense took the day off! Apparently, most of the team did, too as after the middle of the second inning, the game was over! Just like that!!! We were pissed, as it's not an easy thing to plan a half day off in the middle of the week and face three hours of round-trip driving to view only 2.5 innings of baseball. We felt more sorry for the folks walking down to their seats loaded with snacks, only to find there was no more game! Let's face it- we don't go to THIS stadium for the food! We were even disappointed at the souvenir shop, as they didn't have Spring Training pins nor many adult items. In fact, since David began coming out to Spring Training in 2004, he's only been able to acquire one Spring Training pin with the year on it, and that was back in '04! Sorry, bud, but they didn't have one today, either!

Something cool DID happen today, besides Humber's solid inning of work and Smith's slider- we got to meet our idol, the heart and soul of this organization, Mr. Omar Minaya! Although I already had his autograph, a new one today couldn't hurt after all we'd been through, and Omar obliged, with a smile and a handshake. Classy man, that Omar!!!

I wish we had more to offer from the game, but there simply IS no more- unless you want to hear about the people who wanted their money back- the money that was going to a charity...

On the way home, trying to take away something good from the day, we flipped on the radio only to find that, once again, the Hall-of-Fame voters blew it and Gil Hodges wasn't elected again. It's sad that someone who was an amazing player AND a World Series-winning manager is not in the Hall. There were maybe 4 or 5 first baseman better than Hodges (all-around), and if he had lived, he would certainly have won a few, or at least one, more World Series. Joe Torre will get into the Hall eventually, but if Hodges is not in first, it would really be a tragedy. Also deserving, in our opinion, is Ron Santo (especially while he's still alive) and Marvin Miller, who, whether you liked him or loathed him, certainly changed the game forever. Another year, another wasted ballot...

No comments: