Something for nothing: Rare lazy baseball afternoon works out just fine

Johan on the TV, Strasburg on the computer, Eminem on the wall -- perfection I understand it’s en vogue at the moment to either drip with sentiment that “it’s good to have baseball back,” or to write “above it all” type stuff about how none of it matters anyway. I was determined to do neither. But then came today, when I gave in to the fact that maybe enjoying some baseball that doesn’t count isn’t such a bad way to spend an afternoon.

I’m typically not a guy who likes to relax, even when I actually need to. In the words of my main man Brother Ali, “Live and die with the grind/driven by the fist.” Every time I try to take an afternoon off and watch a movie or something, I’m compelled to get out and go for a run, or attempt to lay some groundwork for some project I’m working on. It’s just kind of the way I’m wired.

That said, I’ve been pushing myself especially hard lately. The beginning of the baseball season actually constitutes a very busy time for me professionally; I’ve been working some long hours, while not really getting very much rest even when I do have free time. I’ve also had some injuries that have forced me into physical therapy, which I find draining.

This came to a head this past weekend, when I was so exhausted I had a minor fender-bender. (Long story short: My car no longer has a front bumper. Not to worry – nobody was hurt, except me in terms of my pride, and I found a guy who says he can reattach the bumper)

Kaz homers off Santana? I should buy a lottery ticketSo when I woke up today with a long list of errands to run, a part of me could just tell that wasn’t going to happen. I felt “easy like Sunday morning,” though it was actually Tuesday afternoon. And with Stephen Strasburg pitching his first spring game and Johan Santana back in business, it was a good day to take a rare road trip to my couch and watch a couple games at once with my computer and my TV.

Now Santana wasn’t at his best, but I was still, you know, watching him pitch, and I was able to see the spectacle of personal ironic favorite Kazuo Matsui – of all people – going deep off one of the greatest pitchers of our generation. And since it’s just spring, Santana is clearly “working on his pitches”; he said he feels healthy, so I was free to enjoy it.

As for Strasburg, he looked great. His breaking pitches were sharp, he threw in the high 90’s, he turned in a seven-pitch first inning. He also destroyed Miguel Cabrera, who was impressed:

When he throws the ball, it’s like an explosion.

I could do without Mike Rizzo in the booth gloating about him. My mom could have drafted Strasburg. But though nothing is for sure with pitchers, it looks like Nationals fans have something to be excited about here, though they’ll likely have to wait a few months to see him play in Washington because of service-time reasons.

I think the thing I like most about Spring Training is getting to see the potential future of my team. As a Mets fan, it’s obviously great to watch David Wright slam a home run to left, but I’ll (hopefully) have plenty of opportunities to see that as the year rolls on.

But right now is my opportunity to watch Ike Davis show off his power with yet another home run — even if it comes as a result of what appears to be a very long swing. It’s a chance to watch Jenrry Mejia’s darting fastball, albeit impressive, evoke comparisons to pitchers he’ll probably be not a whole lot like. And I get to catch up with Fernando Martinez, who everyone proclaimed washed up at the ripe, old age of 21, though nobody seemed to let his bat know.

Once the season starts, it’ll be wins and losses, Francesa and Lupica, injuries and recoveries. For now, when you sift through the obligatory useless stories about has-been or never-was players, you can watch guys like Mejia or Davis and picture being at the stadium to watch them playing in the bigs. I don’t care how old you are or how jaded you are – and make no mistake, I’m already jaded and getting older by the minute – that’s pretty cool.

And it’s also pretty cool to get a reminder once in a while that even when you’re in the grind, sometimes an afternoon spent doing not very much at all can be time very well spent.


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