Nobody wants to hear this, but two whole months remain until the baseball season starts. I say this because everybody is getting starry-eyed about the approach of pitchers and catchers. The season ends and people say “only three and a half months until pitchers and catchers.” At holiday time, people say “only a month and a half until pitchers and catchers.” Not “until pitchers and catchers report to camp ahead of everybody else.” Just “pitchers and catchers.” It’s like some magic catchphrase, with its own poetic rhythm. Pitchers and catchers. Butchers and bakers.
You know how when you’re waiting on line outside a building and you think, “once I just get inside the building, I’ll be almost there” and you get inside the building and you see that this is just the beginning of the wait because there’s this big waiting area where the line is compressed into a tight coil you will have to snake through for the next god-knows-how-long? Well we’re about to get into the building.
We’re about to intensify what we’ve been doing for the last three months. We will look over and over at the guys we’ve got. We will look over and over at the guys we don’t have and at the guys they’ve got. Why are we doing this? What we seem to be doing is trying to determine, with the maximum amount of precision, just how much hope we think it is reasonable to have. That’s all we’re doing. That is the only reason to keep looking at the numbers, to keep reading reports from winter leagues. We’re trying to determine how hopeful or how frightened we should be.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this makes no sense at all. Because even if you had read every scouting report, every newspaper report, every blog entry, and every statistical breakdown, you still would have no idea at all about how the Mets will do this season. Too many things can happen that you know you can’t know about now. That’s why you are a baseball fan. You like the unpredictability. Therefore, when they start playing baseball, you will hope as much as you want to hope no matter what the statistics and scouting reports tell you. What you are doing right now is a waste of your time.
Logically, this is true. But we will do what we’re doing anyway. Because the real point is not to determine how much hope we should have. The real point is to have the fun that is involved in developing a sense of how much hope we should have. You’re going to throw away what you’re building in your mind, as soon as the season starts. But the fun is in the building of the hope and in the happiness that comes from changing the amount you hope, as things develop.
And then, if things go well, and you get to the end of the next regular season and things have turned out well and the Mets have won about 100 games and are way ahead of everybody, nothing you have seen in the season, nothing you know about any of the teams, nothing you know about anything, will give you any way to even begin to guess who is going to win the World Series.
So go ahead, read, calculate, compare, and make your predictions. It will give you something fun to do as you move slowly in the line in the lobby of the building. It won’t help you understand anything but it will keep you busy. And it will make you happy. For two months?