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Play Ball

Mike SteffanosWednesday, February 28, 2007
By Mike Steffanos


I know many fans could care less about the Grapefruit League games that begin for the Mets today, but I'm not one of them. I always feel a sense of excitement at the start of exhibition games that, in all honesty, is way out of proportion to what's really going on. To me, the first spring training game is like spotting robins on the lawn -- it's one of the early signs that winter is retreating. Even the weather here is cooperating, as for the second day in a row the temperature outside my house has climbed into the 40s.

I know that the joy of exhibition baseball will fade fairly quickly, but I'm looking forward to seeing some of those talented pitchers we've been writing abut these past couple of months. Indeed, as training camps go, this one has more than its share of actual interest, as we see who wins some of these jobs out of camp. For all the uncertainty around the team heading into 2007, I can remember back to not that long ago when the level of talent the Mets brought into camp was pretty sorry. The last time the team had this much young talent was when they were on the cusp of that great run in the 1980s. Talent doesn't always equate with performance, but it's fun to watch.

Scoff if you will, but they're playing baseball in Port St. Lucie today, and that makes me smile.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (11)

I remember the first spring training game in 1968. Tommy Agee was acquired over the winter and was the leadoff hitter. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I believe he was plunked by Bob Gibson on his first at bat in a Mets uniform. Back in 68 you were allowed to come north with a roster of 26. I think you could keep 26 for 30 days into the season. I believe that was also the year they experimented with playing Amos Otis at thirdbase.

Saw that Joe Smith is impressing early.

Also, a bit on Ambiorix Burgos is shared over at Baseball Musing and elsewhere, from a Kansas City writer promoting his book. It is a somewhat painful read; brother Burgos has more than his name to overcome. Maybe a catchy, easily pronounced nickname would allow him to concentrate on his trade, hum?

Mike - tempering my excitement was the tandem of "Cards win, Mets lose" on the scoreboard. It was cool to watch the Snigh feed of the game this afternoon on MLB.com from my Orlando, Florida office. Cooler still that the boss was in Atlanta on sales calls, so he couldn't catch me sneaking peeks at the Grapefruit action.

Perez got roughed up bad in a short stint today; he barely got through the lineup once. But it's so hard to pull anything meaningful from nine innings, especially nine February innings.

I'm wondering whether teams that want to get a real good look at those cometing for those last few roster spots (and what team isn't in that position?) might consider scheduling more split squad games than they currently do. This is one of those few win-win-win propositions. More fans for the Florida and Arizona cities that host a team. More games for the fans to see. More innings and at-bats for the young hotshots and hangers-on to impress. More data with which a team can make the right decisions come the end of March.

Just throwing this out there. Any thoughts why this would or wouldn't be a good thing?
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dd - AmBurg? No, that sounds like fast food from a pyramid scheme. We might ought to ask the boy himself what we should call him. As long as we can call him into the game in the seventh, and call him a success with a basketful of holds and a couple of wins and saves thrown in for good measure.

Isn't it standard baseball practice to just add a "y" to the guy's 1st or 2nd name and just go with it? If it's A-Burg, include me out.

One would have to possess a thoroughly crusty, cranky and scurrilous soul to not be happy at spring training games having begun. We know they don't count--that's the freakin' point! It's no vacation for the players, but for us fans, we get to work our cheering/cussing muscles into shape, knowing all-the-while it's not life and death. It's almost like being off from work.

Life and death begins April 1st. Enjoy ST, while it lasts.

Geez , Perez only beaned one SI Photographer today . Guess his control Really is Improving ? .......:)

John - Agee was hit in the head by Gibson.
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dd - I saw the same thing that you did on Burgos, and all I would say to the guy that wrote it was that Burgos was a little young and inexperienced to be a closer. I thought his words were unnecessarily harsh. A guy should at least get to 25 before he gets completely written off.
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NostraDennis - I'm sure they'll play as many games as possible, but they're going to have to make some decisions very quickly. There's only so many innings.
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geezer - Do they still do that thing with the "y" at the end of the name, or are we just dating ourselves here?
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Mark - Lo Duca told him to "hit the mascot", and he missed.

Mike, I know you're busy and all, but Willie employs the "y" rule in nearly every interview. It actually makes me crack up, but I'll take laughs and wins wherever I can get 'em!

There's nicknames and then there's nicknames.

Who was that pitcher from a few years back who was born with six fingers on each hand? They called him "Pulpo," which means octopus in Spanish.

We need the guy who came up with that one to help us here.

Antonio Alfonseca was called Purpo by EVERY SINGLE SPANISH PERSON AT ANY BALLPARK HE VISITED. It was great.

geezer - Willie is older than I am. We always used to do that with the Y at the end of the name back in the day, but you don't hear that so much from the younger guys.
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Isn't Alfonseca with the Phillies this year?

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