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22 February 2013

A trip to a Spring Training ballpark helped me realize: There's no better sport than hockey

The Canessa Commentary


Yes, this is a Devils/hockey blog. But I am going to tell you a baseball story today, one that, ultimately, goes back to our great sport.

Yesterday, my buddy Joel McGuirk and I travelled two miles to go to the Mets’ spring training facility here in our hometown. Joel has lived here in Port St. Lucie for seven years; I am here, now, close to a year. In our backyard is the stadium where the Mets open up their spring season Saturday afternoon — and when we travel the city this and next month, chances are we’ll bump into a Mets’ player, coach, executive or broadcaster.

Yesterday was great. I was just a few feet away from David Wright. And Jonathon Niese. And Terry Collins. I got to have a quick chat with WFAN’s Ed Coleman. I was able, also, to catch up with a pal, Chris Carlin, who does Mets’ pre- and post-games on SNY.

There were a couple hundred others there, too — there to see the Mets field balls, play catch and take batting practice. 

It was, indeed, enjoyable to watch — for a few minutes. And yet among the hundreds who were there, some were cheering and yelling and screaming when someone knocked a ball out of the park. It was February — and they were into the practice the Mets were putting on.

David Wright signs autographs for fans at the Mets' spring training camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Tuesday, 20 February 2013. 
And yet, as I stood there, hopelessly pessimistic that this Mets’ season is going to be as bad as every pundit has said it will be, I once again reverted to my roots. I once again stood there, wishing David Wright was Martin Brodeur, wishing Jonathon Niese was Adam Henrique. I wished Terry Collins was Peter DeBoer. I wished Sandy Alderson was Lou Lamoriello.

Because when it comes down to it, baseball is a bore, really (especially if you root for a team that practically never wins) — and there’s no greater sport than hockey. Period.

Yes, some of the Mets players stopped for autographs, including the aforementioned Wright, and Ike Davis — and others. But it was not the same as if it were hockey players.

Even after all its issues — the lockout comes right to mind — being in the presence of Major Leaguers made me realize, even more, just how much more exciting a game hockey is.

I was a baseball fan before a hockey fan. And I’ll never drop baseball (that is, of course, unless there’s another strike, like 1994). 

But sometimes, it takes a trip to the ballpark to realize — there’s no better game, there’s no better sport, there’s no better athletes than there are in hockey.

And no baseball autograph or photograph can or ever will change that.

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