Archive for April 3rd, 2009

Next Stop, Cincinnati

April 3, 2009

Some might say that life is dictated by how well you take advantage of your opportunities. Or yet, one could say that where you end up, good or bad, you probably got there because you made some sort of a decision. Back in February my brother informed me that the Mets were going to open the season in Cincinnati. Considering that he currently lives in Columbus, a two hour drive from Cincy, the thought did cross my mind that I could make the trek westward and attend the Opening Day game. Anything’s possible. Since the game is to be played on a Monday, I could book a flight for Friday night and be at his place in approximately three hours. Spend the weekend and, on Monday, cruise down to Great American Ballpark and watch left-hander Johan Santana kick off the 2009 season in victorious fashion.

At that time, the Mets were contemplating some travel plans of their own. They were faced with the important decision of whether or not to fly Santana to New York for an MRI on his sore elbow. With all things considered, including a pending winter snow storm, the decision was made to forgo the excursion up North and Santana was made to sleep on it. Perhaps, his precious left elbow would work itself out. Theories began to present themselves on what could have caused such a dilemma. One, Santana was compensating for his repaired knee and somehow by favoring it, messed up his mechanics causing his elbow to suffer. Two, he jumped out of the gate too soon at the start of Spring Training in hopes of participating in the WBC for his native Valenzuela. One thing’s for certain, we’ll probably never know.

Days would go by and reports would begin to surface that Santana might not be ready to go for his opening day start. Manager Jerry Manuel was fast becoming more and more resigned in the fact that as long as his ace was able to pitch soon after, it didn’t matter to him if he missed the Mets April 6th opener. For me, not witnessing probably the greatest Mets pitcher since Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, was enough of a warning to ditch the whole idea of visiting my brother altogether.

Santana would progressively get back on track while his bullpen side-sessions would become back-page fervor for fans in New York. An inevitable highlight to a very lowlight spring training. Eventually, the left-hander would make his first start under the bright glare of Tradition Field and be broadcasted through the lens of SNY. After each successive game, Santana would commandeer the words, “Everything feels pretty good.” As fans, we had to believe he was telling the truth.

With Santana’s words of encouragement, I re-introduced the thought of flying to my brother’s place in Columbus. By now, the price of the flight had almost doubled since the last time I checked it. I would confer with family and friends in hopes of reaching a concrete decision on whether I should make the trip or not. After wavering back and forth for what seemed like an eternity, I decided that I had to make my final decision as soon as possible.

The next day, it became official. Santana would be scheduled as the Opening Day starter for the Mets. That was all the motivation I needed. A few clicks of the mouse later and my flight to Ohio was booked in anticipation of watching the Mets take on the Cincinnati Reds. I couldn’t even begin to tell you who was starting for the Reds. But what I do know is that weather permitting; I will be deep inside enemy lines come Monday with the opportunity to be part of what could be the beginning of a very magical season for our beloved Mets.