It's never too early to start thinking about baseball. Of all professional sports, baseball remains my favorite. Football is great - don't get me wrong. But in my opinion, there is nothing better than sitting field level on a sunny Sunday afternoon, drinking a cold beer, enjoying some fresh air, and watching a ballgame. The year the Nats first moved to D.C., I hit my personal best for live attendance -- 68 games (I split a Nationals' season ticket package with some folks, and also caught a bunch of O's and Mets games that season . . . I've yet to eclipse 35 live games any season since . . . and, last season, I barely reached 10 . . .).
Of course, as a Mets fan, I've got low expectations for 2013. There is no chance of October baseball, particularly with the Nats and Braves in the NL East. But hell, even if you threw the Mets in a division with the Astros, Marlins, Twins and Rockies, I'd put the Mets chances for a pennant at slim to slimmer. I mean, you sort of need an outfield to win games. Yet, I like what Sandy Alderson is doing. It will take some time for the Omar Minaya stench to dissipate; but Sandy has the team moving in the right direction. I'll sacrifice 2013/2014 to rebuild. With Niese, Harvey and Wheeler set to anchor the rotation, and Travis d'Arnaurd behind the plate, I can see a brighter future. Hell, I think I'd rather be a Mets fan than a Yankees fan at this very moment [as an interesting aside, I was listening to Brian Cashman on MLB radio on the drive to work a week or so ago. He was declaring that the image of the Yankees as a deep pocket, free-spending, organization was pure misperception. The example he gave to support his story -- when Albert Pujols was an the market, the Yankees did not even get involved in the fray. Um. Yeah. I mean, what great measure of discipline and fiscal restraint to not try and land Pujols . . . especially with Mark Teixeira already commanding a mint at first base. Fuck you, Yankees].
So, with anticipation of the season brewing, I just booked a baseball excursion for the Mets West Coast road trip in August -- 5 days in Santa Monica during the three-game series at Chavez Ravine, and three days in San Diego for the weekend series at Petco Park. I've been to Mets games at both stadiums before, but I'm definitely looking forward to going back for more. Dodger Stadium is sort of a piece of crap . . . I mean, physically, the stadium alone . . . It somehow reminds me of a West Coast Shea Stadium. Old. Concrete. Tattered. Yet, there's something magical about the place - pearched hilltop . . . palm trees past the outfield. First pitch in the evening sun, even though my east coast internal clock is telling me it's 10:10pm . . . I can't help but hear Vince Scully in my head calling a game when I sit there.
Baseball aside, it's hard to beat Southern Cal in August. June gloom is in the rear view mirror, and days are generally sunny and mid-seventies - perfect for the beach. I plan to hit up some surf and get some hiking in during the days, along with poker at Commerce and perhaps some of the other LA rooms.
Opening day can't come soon enough.