The sticky, suffocating August dripped from the South Carolina sky and slithered under the heavy camouflage that covered our skin. We marched on what would have been a dusty road had the dirt not been coated with the sweat of the sky, and our rucksacks were filled with weight but not substance, arms loaded down with M-16s, and pretend enemies hid in the tall Carolina pines. It was Basic Training for the Army. It was hot. It was humid. But most of all, I was missing baseball.
I had crammed as much baseball into June 2000 as I could. In April and half of May, I had been frolicking with the Irish around the Dublin environs and missed the start of the season. I managed five games in that abbreviated summer - two in Cleveland against the Indians - before life stopped. I was no longer a civilian.
When we stood in the chowline each day, there were newspaper pages posted on the walls, including the baseball standings. I skipped the Russian sunken submarine articles despite their tragic sadness and made sure I knew how Griffey and the Reds were doing.
I bought the two inch color television when Basic Training was over and I was stuck at Fort Jackson due to administrative error. I bought it for baseball so I could watch the playoffs and World Series. These days I carry it around every October so I don't have to miss a pitch. As I was watching it on the bus home tonight, I thought about that Subway Series on that two inch screen, when a tiny Todd Zeile hit a grand slam that counted as a single because his lack of ego stopped him at first.
Yeah, I'm rooting for the Mets, as I already feel some sort of connection with them. I'll live in New York soon, I'm sure. I hope the Yankees crash and burn. I had my Subway Series. I don't need to see another.
David Wright rox. Go Mets. (Jose, Jose Jose Jose...)