Are The Doldrums Really Over Or Is This Still A Dream?

Some reasons we know Spring Training has arrived:

"I dominated that era,"
Pedro began in the most succinct yet typically cryptic hilarious early moment of the Steroid Spring. "And I did it clean."

Leave it to Pedro, of course, to cut through the rubbish and get to the heart of the Cheat Clemens Controversy.

Everyone's Happy: Rick Peterson seems to be allowing his excitement to verge on the obscene - hope Willie's got something to clean the side of his pants off with later...

"This year, tell Jimmy Rollins WE'RE the team to beat."

An early surprise after only a day was not the rapid recovery of Duaner Sanchez, who we commend from afar for reporting in a semblance of shape this season, eager to prove and eager to put a miserable past behind him, but El Capitan, Carlos Beltran who took the unusual step not only of speaking, but speaking in bold and flagrant terms, albeit slightly unoriginally given the comments of NL MVP Jimmy Rollins last Spring Training.

Perhaps more impressive, rather than shrivel in horror at his remarks, Beltran merely shrugged at any potential controversy:

"I don't care," Beltran said. "They boo me in Houston. One more city won't make a difference."

There was no immediate reaction out of the Philly camp and you have to wonder: Are the Phillies Running Scared Already?

If you're looking for the early Poster Boy For Flab look no further than Phillies starting pitcher, Brett Myers, who doesn't appear to have run anywhere but the refrigerator all winter...Maybe the team was too busy eating and chewing to hear or respond to El Capitan's bold assertion of team leadership.

One man who must be incredibly relieved not to be in the purgatory of the Twins' Spring Training camp this season is the man oft-rumoured to be the bait to snatch Santana from the Twins, Jose Reyes.

He arrived early to Spring Training and not only that, he took the blame for the Mets September Meltdown. It wasn't ALL his fault of course but the Scapegoat Queue is pretty lengthy and Jose appears so relieved not to be a Twin that he's jumping ahead to let everyone know he's still here.

Reyes will be under the scope often and early in light of his horrific, sulking collapse last September, his failure to run out grounders and the misperception of a bad attitude that persisted most of the off season.

But he seems, at this early stage, as eager and optimistic as ever.

Yes, El Duque says he doesn't want to pitch in the pen - well Heilman's been saying that for years and look where it gets him. Bullpen has questions, Willie's managerial lustre which was never that much to begin with is dull and needing something tangible to brighten its colour, Carlos Delgado still has to prove himself, etc. Just pieces of the litany to keep the heady days from making us dizzy.

But of course all of this small potatoes compared to Johan Santana in a Mets uniform.

Not many will strike fear in hearts as fast as Santana in the East...

You have to figure that Santana's arrival not only saved Omar's bacon after a dreadful winter but gives Willie a prayer of lasting the season, gave Beltran a sudden gift for speaking in tongue and makes everyone in the Met world seemingly at ease and happy. Confident.

Last year's collapse was, like Rosemary's Baby, nine months in the making...

But now the Mets are waiting. They are gimpy already before the season's even started...


Meanwhile, Back At Congress, Roger Clemens Is Talking Needles and Butt

Manager or Court Jester?

In a way, I'm starting to feel nauseous already about the prospects of Willie at the helm of this Titanic Championship craft. Especially when he makes idiotic comments like he did at the All Hail Johan Press Conference and General Giddiness Buffet when he said, straight-face and all:

“We felt good about ourselves going into spring training as it was,”

Sorry? What was that? Willie needs a psych evaluation? Willie is out campaigning for the Championship of Absurdist Statements?

What was there all that good to feel about exactly? No consistently palatable starters other than Pedro? A bullpen too full of question marks? A left fielder destined to play about 30% of the team's games? Mediocrity patrolling right? A first baseman who spent most of last season struggling to hit his weight? The 20 man platoon of catchers waiting to be unleashed? A Spring Training full of nothing but talk about your historic choking collapse? I don't see how anyone felt good going into Spring Training with that sort of mess trailing behind like a tin can tail following a wedding car. It was more likely something everyone was dreading. Answering the questions.


Yes, it's ok to feel a little giddier now. Johan and Pedro are a lethal one-two punch. They can't fill out the bullpen or the rest of the rotation but it's a good start for one and it's a big distraction from last season's miserably negotiated gut check. And whilst Maine and Oliver both had 15 wins last season, they were sneaky totals. Don't pencil them in for more than 22 combined unless the bullpen suddenly discovers a bunch of heretofore undiscovered arms and consistency. Yes, Guillermo Mota is finally gone, thank christ for that, but whilst one can add by subtraction, one cannot add very far that way. Not even getting rid of Mota will do that.

But who can play pessimist amid all this happyhappy joyjoy symphony of optimism and for that matter, who wants to at the moment? Sure, Willie can paint a nice mural of bullshit about how content he was going into Spring Training without Johan Santana but let's face it, even Willie admits “But when you add a person like Santana, a guy of his caliber, you have a little bit of swagger going.”

The Man who saved Omar's skin...

Of course that swagger could diminish to a stagger what with all the rumours about Pedro and his cockfights. Pedro might end up sharing stories with Michael Vick whilst they sort the laundry in federal prison instead of pitching his way to the NLCS. Then again the outcry against cockfighting in Coliseo de Gallos is probably far less substantial than the outcry in America against hanging dogs. Especially considering it's not only "legal" in the Dominican Republic, but "popular" too.

And really, even the arrival of Santana is somewhat muted by the revelation that Billy Joel is going to headline the final concert at Shea before it is torn down. If he doesn't drink drive himself into the Nissequogue River some night before then, that is. He sang at Yankee Stadium already, he shouldn't be allowed in Shea.

And now Mr Joel, please sing Only The Good Die Young backwards and in Latin...

All in all, a good day at Shea.

Because it's not every day our doings make both Red Sox and Yankee fans jealous...

What? You think they're not secretly dying that Billy Joel isn't playing Fenway?


Johan Santana is a member of the New York Mets.

What does this mean?

This Tolstoy cold dead winter is over.

No one can piss on Omar any more.