Play ball

This post has a shelf life of roughly 80 minutes, so don’t sleep on it.

The Mets’ offseason, more than any other in my twentysomething years of Mets-fan consciousness, was blanketed by an awful shroud of nonsense and negativity. There’s not much need to belabor any of it here: The Wilpons’ looming financial lawsuit and eventual settlement, the bankruptcy rumors, the big-name free-agent departures, the silly helicopter thing, the various illness and injury diagnoses and alleged misdiagnoses, everything. Not all of it — maybe not much of it — actually affects what happens between the foul lines starting in about 80 minutes and ending, in all likelihood, in the early evening on October 3rd in Miami.

Some of it will impact the season’s outcome and our perception of it, no doubt. Maybe if we knew the Mets had more money to throw around this offseason, we could know for certain that Jose Reyes is gone because the team’s front office felt he was a bad bet at six years and $110 million. Or, better, maybe we could be admitting now that the Mets probably overpaid Reyes, and resigned to deal with that in 2015 when it becomes a problem and enjoy his triples while they last.

And maybe under some different set of circumstances, we could predict a better than .500 finish for these Mets and not sound like some pathetically optimistic carp fighting the current. Or we could talk about how the lineup looks primed to score a lot of runs without qualifying it with something about how the defense and pitching staff will probably yield just as many.

But that’s offseason stuff. That’s the stuff of boardrooms and conference centers and courthouses and a woebegone Grapefruit League schedule on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Now they play baseball. Real, meaningful, baseball.

And every damn ballgame is a miracle. I don’t even mean in the big-picture sense, the microcosm-for-the-world and life-lesson stuff I like to extrapolate and run with here when things get heavy. I mean the actual baseball part: Curveballs biting through the strike zone just as they cross the plate, the exquisite timing and choreography of a 4-6-3 double play, home runs so far gone the outfielder doesn’t even bother giving chase, the need for and enforcement of the infield fly rule, diving catches, frozen ropes, stolen bases, wild pitches. Every game is a weird, awesome juxtaposition of chaos and order, randomness and design. It’s amazing.

Maybe that’s not enough for you, and I get that. Well, no. I don’t get that, but I understand that there are plenty of people in this world less committed to this than I am, people who don’t spend long hours watching and thinking about and talking about and writing about baseball, enjoying every minute of it, who don’t then spend their off-days playing baseball and their vacations watching baseball elsewhere. And maybe for the Mets fans among them, given all the negativity that has been swirling around this franchise, it’s not hard to look elsewhere for entertainment options, to boycott the games at the park and on TV and finally catch up on Justified.

Not me though. I’d rather boycott the negativity and catch up on the baseball. For today at the very least.

Which is to say: Play ball.

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