So when I woke up this morning I decided I was going to continue to do things differently, or at least in one small part of my life. I read the New York Times for a whole 90 seconds, then went immediately to the sports page. I’m trying to buck what the rest of society does by picking up the fishwrap in the first place. I’ll continue to try and do it.
The lead story was a Sunday Times feature on former RBI Baseball hero Bobby Ojeda, memorable member of the 1986 Mets. It was a good read on his career, baseball in the 80’s, cigarettes between starts, being a big league pitcher and playing in pain, and the relationship that a hurler has with his pitching arm.
O.K., so I got traded to the Mets. I could not tell you one thing about them. I had been in the A.L. for five years. Their clubhouse vibe was edgy: Let’s do everything hard. Even Davey Johnson carried himself with the confidence of a man with a gun in a knife fight. It rubbed off on me quickly. I felt at home at last. We wanted to win at all costs. That team made playing hurt the rule, not the exception. Sore? Take this. Tired? Take this. Overserved last night? Take this. There was no “next year.” It was now or nothing. The speed we were running at would never last. We all knew it but didn’t give a damn.
I told Steve that I took eight aspirin a day but that sometimes I needed a little more help. Anti-inflammatories, stuff like that. I started the season in the bullpen and got my first start April 22. Our routine was that after every start, I sunk my elbow in a bucket of ice (doubled as a beer cooler) for 20 to 30 minutes. A few cigarettes and beers later, no pain. Imagine. Not much other than that.
Overall it was a great read that I enjoyed about as much as you can enjoy a story in the newspaper these days. I am confident you’ll feel the same way. You’ll be able to smell the rosin bag and feel the ups and downs of a Major Leaguer as Ojeda abbreviates his journey for you.