I usually play with a bunch of guys from the neighborhood in a bar…
By Anthony Bosco
I still haven’t decided whether I will again embark on my somewhat struggling career as a softball player this season, but one thing is for sure, I am more than ready for some baseball.
I usually play with a bunch of guys from the neighborhood in a bar league, on a team that may have played its last game, just like me. But whether I have shagged my last fly ball is beside the point; I am already in serious baseball mode.
When the Yankees opened up the defense of their third straight World Series title Monday, I could not help myself from rising from the isolated confines of my little corner of the Times-Ledger office and walking over to the television to check out what the Bombers were doing. (As of this writing, the Yankees are up 7-2 in the eighth against the Kansas City Royals).
After several laborious months of nothing but basketball, I am so looking forward to strolling down to Cunningham Park or Juniper Valley to take in a high school game. The PSAL has already started play and the CHSAA will follow suit in the next week. And I for one could not be happier about it.
You see, for me, basketball season is the busiest time of year. I am busy shuttling myself to and from Madison Square Garden to check out the St. John’s Red Storm, towing my carcass all over the borough in search of the best high school match-up of the day or desperately trying to follow the printed out computer directions to some place in the Bronx where the playoffs are being held.
Basketball is a seemingly never-ending season filled with controversy, compelling stories and some downright great athletic competition. It’s great and I love it, but for sheer pleasure (and relaxation) there is nothing like baseball.
Maybe it’s because I love to hunker down in the grass and watch the game, the sun beating on my shoulders, or maybe because of all the sports, baseball is what I was brought up on.
I can vividly remember Willie Randolph speaking a mile a minute after the Yankees won the 1976 pennant, as I sat perched on the end of my mother’s bed, about 3 inches from the tiny black-and-white screen, a 6-year-old kid in complete awe. I was in front of that TV for years watching baseball.
Monday was the first day of my season. Basketball season, for the most part, has been over for a little more than a week — following the completion of the State Federation championships last week — and was the day I allotted for calling my high school baseball and softball coaches.
As it turned out, Monday was also the day of the Yanks’ opener, which seemed perfect to me. (The Yanks are still winning, by the way, 7-3 in the ninth).
So pumped am I for the start of baseball season, I even took upon myself to call every single Little League in Queens Monday, not too mention a few other organizations, just to let them know that we want to print their news.
I just hope this year can match last year.
Last season could not have been a better one for a New York baseball fan. Well, maybe a little bit better if you’re a Mets fan.
The Yankees, of course, won the much-anticipated Subway Series, beating the Mets 4-1. It was the culmination of a magical season, even if both teams had their bumps along the way.
If you remember, the Yanks were not supposed to repeat as champs in 2000. Everyone said the team was falling off a bit, that the pitching wasn’t as good and that there were holes in the team, holes that were not there just a year before.
Even so, they were good enough. They won the American League East and swept through the playoffs to meet the Mets in the first inter-city Subway Series in more than 40 years.
The Mets, on the other hand, never got over the hump of beating out the Atlanta Braves for the National League East title, instead settling for a wildcard berth for a second year in a row. And they too cruised to the series (without having to play Atlanta, I might add).
In retrospect, the series was a letdown for me. The real fun was watching the two teams get there. I, as I have said before, am a New York baseball fan who roots for both teams. I was brought up on the Yankees, but have a soft spot for the Mets.
And to be truly honest, I was pulling for the Amazin’s last year, a fact a few of my coworkers have yet to let me live down.
I can only hope for a repeat this year, but to be honest, it’s not likely. The Yankees are still solid, even improving thanks to a couple of off-season acquisitions, most notably pitcher Mike Mussina. But the Mets might not be as good. With pitcher Mike Hampton gone and the team’s failure to get either Alex Rodriguez or Gary Sheffield to bolster its line-up, I find it hard to believe the Mets will again make the Series.
But who knows? Anything is possible. In the meantime, I will watch both teams — not to mention an awful lot of Little League, high school and college games along the way — hoping for a sequel to last year’s Fall Classic.
And whether that happens or not really doesn’t matter. I just want to watch some baseball, which reminds me…yes, the Yankees have won.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.