The television and the computer are very important to my baseball-following existence.
I don't live close to a major league stadium. The nearest ones are an all-day drive away, which would actually be a three-day journey -- one day for the trip down, one to watch the game and one for the trip back. I'm not 20 anymore. I'm not jamming all that into one day.
And the one team that I live and die for is all the way on the other side of the country, thank you very much Walter O'Malley. So, even with modern amenities, my ability to follow my favorite team is somewhat limited.
Therefore, I am the perfect candidate for MLB Extra Innings. It has Night Owl bleeding blue all over it.
But I can't afford it. I have a mortgage and a family and a car that suddenly needs brake work. I try to reconcile daily the amount of money I spend on rectangular photographs of ballplayers. I don't need to do that in two different areas.
And that is why the Free Preview of the MLB Extra Innings package is the highlight of every April. For six glorious days, I can watch my favorite team AND random teams that I'll never get to see in this Oppressive Yankees Hell without the guilt.
Yesterday, I watched the Mariners and A's. Tonight, I watched the Orioles and Rays. I will not get to see these teams again all season unless A-Rod is also prancing around the infield. And that tarnishes the whole experience.
But the best part -- usually -- is getting to see the Dodgers. Most times during the Free Preview, they're playing the Giants or the Diamondbacks. But these last few days, because of that spectacularly imbalanced schedule, they kicked off the season with the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
And for two days I was actually regretting the Free Preview. Almost cursing it. Inventing new words to hurl at it. The first game, the Dodgers gave up 11 runs. I won't even get into that. The second game was worse. Errors. Throws to the wrong base. Endless walks. My boy, Clayton Kershaw, can look like a world-beater and absolutely clueless in the same inning. Walking the pitcher twice? Calm down, son.
But today, finally, the Free Preview presented a game worth watching. Chad Billingsley was respectable. Ronnie Belliard was spectacular. Dodgers 10, Pirates 2 (I have revived the Dodger Player of the Gane on the sidebar).
By the way, why can't I get a card of Belliard in a Dodger uniform? Jim Thome was acquired by the Dodgers after Belliard and I have six cards of Thome as a Dodger, but none of Belliard. Meanwhile, Thome is now a Twin, but Belliard is still a Dodger. Topps Total, where ARE you?
Living 3,000 miles away from my favorite team is an experience that those who live close to their team may never know. Every game that I see them play -- because I see so few of them -- is like a playoff game. Simply excruciating. Even in a game played at noon in a near empty ballpark. (Plus the Dodgers slow the game down so much it seems like it's one of those mid-October plodfests).
Next, the Dodgers try to squish the fish. I'll be busy working for most of it. Sunday will be my last chance to see the Free Preview, and then it's back to a steady diet of Michael Kay and Ron Darling-Keith Hernandez.
At least I won't get an ulcer watching those teams.