Like trillions of other people confined to watching baseball via the internet I too experimented with the MLBTV Experience, this time, a "Premium" experience which was on offer for "free" to watch both Mets games against the Red Sox.
For the last several seasons I have contented myself with the radio package only because in many ways listening to baseball on the radio is a romanticist's endeavour. You don't need to be bombarded by visuals to appreciate the subtleties of the spoken word describing the tension, the drama, the humour and the excitement of baseball on the radio. Oh yeah, plus it was cheaper. MLB radio was ALOT cheaper than telly coverage. It was also more reliable because it required less bandwidth. And there were no blackouts. Ever.
Perhaps it was the giddiness of "seeing" the new stadium up close or the euphoria of seeing some of the new Mets up close or certainly the pleasure of the wit and wisdoms of Keith Hernandez but whatever the reason, I was sold, partially anyway. I didn't get the premium facility, just the regular telly. And I didn't take the tactical chunder and get the package for the entire season, taking the coward's path to the monthly, cancel-at-any-time subscription in case, oh, I dunno, Santana blows out his elbow on Opening Day.
Oh certainly the highlight was watching the look of incomprehension and frustration in the faces of Ollie Perez and various Mets management as he walked four and gave up six runs and didn't even make it out of the bloody first inning on Saturday.
How's that for a tune up?
Like a baseball bat to the head.
And yeah, sure, in a normal situation this would invoke all kinds of situational fears and anxieties. But Ollie being Ollie, and Mets fans being Mets fans, we all take it on the chin, shrug, hold our hands up, whattaya gonna do, after all, He's Mr Inconsistency, innit? Ok, he was booed off the field, deservedly, but in the back of your mind maybe you were thinking good, this means in his on-again-off-again schedule of concentration, he'll be stunning when he takes the mound for his first regular season start.
Or maybe not. "It was really cold," Ollie whinged in explanation of pitching as if his hands were really ladies' ankles. "I'm not used to pitching in that weather. I just have to understand that sometimes I'm going to pitch on days like that. I have to get ready for Cincinnati because I know it's going to be cold, too."
Aye, good one, Sherlock.
Isn't this why Omar re-signed Ollie in the first place? A re-run of the one step forward three steps back show that we all clearly loved and cherished so dearly? Of course.
That and oh yeah, he didn't want to "overpay" for Derek Lowe.
Lowe of course, a day after Ollie was removed in chains for displaying the plate control of an incontinent newborn, was out tossing eight scoreless innings against the Phillies in baseball's Opening night.
Lowe of course, is now 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA at Citizens Bank Park.
But hey, we've got Ollie. And we've been growing our hair all off season so there's plenty to pull out when he pitches. Whoop.
The enigma of the Sheffield signing is in full bloom.
Of course, the Addition by Subtraction Rule, which worked so tantalising for the bullpen this off season, might come into play here once the Mets send Marlon Anderson packing. It's not that I don't like Marlon Anderson, in the words of Henry Chinaski in Barfly, "I just feel better when he's not around."
Of course, we might all feel better if Gary Sheffield isn't around. Eventually.
But if you want my outsider, know-nothing-on-the-inside take, I'd say Sheffield is going to go out with the same whimper he's coming in with. I don't see him magically discovering his hitting stroke with the Mets. It's been gone for more than a year, maybe two years.
Nope, he's yet another of these reclamation projects, Lightning in a Bottle that Omar is always trying to capture.
But you can't really blame Omar for trying. There's literally nothing to lose other than the baggage of Marlon Anderson in this deal. He costs virtually nothing. Expectation is low. And who knows, really? Maybe he sticks with the team. Maybe he rediscovers, a la Carlos Delgado, the voodoo magic in his bat and we're talking about a rejuvenated Sheffield, a Sheffield that can do damage.
Clubhouse cancer? Maybe, but the Mets could use a little controversy. There about as vanilla, personality-wise, as a team of 25 men can get outside of a glee club choir. A little Gary Sheffield could cure that quick. And let's be honest here, this happy-to-be-alive-and-playing-baseball kind of spirit exhibited by so many Mets over the last few seasons is precisely one of the reasons they pack it in with their tails between their legs when September rolls around. They aren't hard and cynical enough. The Mets are like a pretty boy fighter who hasn't had his face cut up in a fight yet. Punched in the gut, kneed in the balls, yes. On both counts, two years in a row. But not hit in the face. Gary Sheffield has been hit in the face many times. Over and over.
But it remains to be seen not only if he can play right field without injuring himself but whether or not he can do what the Mets are bringing him in to do. Hit.
And before we commence crying for Ryan Church and his concussion-addled skull let's remember something about winning teams: they have internal competition. Church is good, but he's not the best rightfielder baseball, or even the National League. Or, arguably, even the National League East. So if signing Sheffield is a little ring-a-ding to him to bring his play up a notch even higher, so be it. He isn't Jay Cutler, after all. He isn't going to go and demand a trade back to the Nats any time soon now is he?
And Sheffield's right-handed bat breaks up the lefty monopoly of Church and The Murph in left in the batting order.
But, that's all based on the premise that Sheffield's personality is so sedate and he's such a corporate little yes man now, emptied of his former angry, bitter self, isn't merely down to the fact that he can't hit any more. Lost the magic.
We'll see, of course. And what we're paying to watch is peanuts so, good going Omar.
In any case, provided they aren't snowed out, the Mets begin their 2009 Campaign For Unprecedented Domination and Glory today.
Unfortunately, we have a gig (remember if you will, the time zone differences) I foolishly agreed to before consulting my magical Mets calendar a month ago so I won't be watching it live.
Any luck and by virtue of the magic of modern technology, that auld MLBTV will work it's magic and I can watch the entire playback, four hours after the opening pitch or snowflake, as if I were already there. Time machine and all.