Exactly six months ago, I lamented the loss of baseball and the onset of fall. The previous day, Kris, Spector and I watched Mike Piazza take his bows as a Met for the final time, then watched as Jose Offerman lined into a double play, officially ending an 83-win season for the New York Mets.
Today, they're back - not just the Mets, but the Brewers, Blue Jays, Padres - all of them. It's Opening Day, and 2006 can finally begin.
I guess I'm just a huge sports nerd, but my summers are not only defined by what happens to me in my life, but what happens to groups of millionaires as they run around ballfields. And really, the two are intertwined - I'll always remember 2005 for the first full summer Kris and I enjoyed together, and we spent part of it following the Phillies to Camden Yards, following the Mets to PNC Park, making trips down to Citizens Bank and a couple pilgrimages to Shea. It was incredible highs at work (and a few lows), and it was the Mets taking their shot at the playoffs.
So as sad as it seems to say it (considering the fact that it's the jockly equivalent of dividing up cherished life memories based upon when seasons of Star Trek spinoffs begin and end), Opening Day is more than just game one of 162. It's day one of 2006. We can once again don shorts and flip-flops and rub in some suntan lotion and go out and let life begin. It's time to make new memories, even if some of them are going to be sitting in a 45,000-seat stadium for three hours drinking $7.50 Budweisers. It's time to live our lives nine innings at a time, even if we miss today's game - there's always another game tomorrow.
Flowery prose aside, I'm cautiously optimistic about this year's Mets team. They seem to have put together their best, most likeable group since the magical season of 1999, and as bad an in-game manager as Willie Randolph can sometimes be, the players play for him - he brings a veneer of professionalism to a franchise that has too often been a fucking insane circus (you may think the use of the word "fucking" is gratuitous here, but the phrase "insane circus" can't begin to describe the 2002, 2003 and 2004 New York Mets; hence, "fucking").
Of course, this is the type of optimism that lasts just about as long as it takes for Tom Glavine to give up three first inning runs and get that "I hate New York, life and myself" look going today, so we shall see. Enjoy Opening Day.