It’s been a brutal winter here in New York. There has not been any one big storm, no crazy 20-plus-inch blizzard. Instead, it snows about four times a week, and when it isn’t snowing the temperature is Alaskan. This has made me wistful for the years where a big storm or two is the problem. 2014 has been the Chinese water torture winter. And recently I began to wonder if it would break me. Even the usual uplifting rite of passage, pitchers and catchers arriving for Spring Training, had little effect on me. Outside my window there remained immense piles of snow, and breathing the air beyond that window was to risk pneumonia. The pictures from Florida on my TV never felt more distant and out of place.
But then, yesterday a wonderful thing happened. Up in the sky a bright yellow object returned. With it came warmth, actual warmth. Snow melted and I could finally see patches of grass on my lawn. It was kind of green, just as I remembered it. And just like that the idea of spring, and baseball, became real for me again.
As I hit the yard and took a deep, deep breath of non-arctic air I started thinking, hey wait a second there are going to be actual games later this week. From there I began daydreaming about a lot of things, ending up with a question for myself.
Who is the one player I’m most pumped up about this year?
And me being me, I didn’t have to think about that too hard. It’s Zack Wheeler.
I cut my teeth on the Mets of Seaver, Koosman, Ryan, Gentry, Matlack, etc. Of all the things I love about the game, I love watching power pitching the most. Just last year, Matt Harvey was a reminder of how much fun dominant pitching can be. A year later there is no Harvey, a blow to all Mets fans. But there is still Wheeler. Zack showed in 100 innings in 2013 the type of electric stuff to be that type of guy. Not just a winning pitcher, but an entertaining pitcher. The type that makes you pay full attention to the game.
After this winter, I’m more than ready to pay attention to baseball again.
For now I’m going back outside again to look at that patch of grass.