|Is Opening Day an April Fools Joke in New York City?
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Posted: April 1, 2013
by Ted Greenberg
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Nearly thirty years ago, one of the biggest hoaxes in sports history involved the Mets and a to-good-to-be-true pitching prospect, Sidd Finch. Essentially the creation of the late great writer George Plimpton, Finch was equal parts early Barry Zito and Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh. He could toss the heat with a fastball clocking in at 168 mph. In 1985 (before the advent of the internet and smartphones), Sports Illustrated ran Plimpton’s article about the improbable pitcher, and Mets fans were gaga for the kid with the live arm. And scouts were shaking in their boots, though Finch only wore one on the mound while pitching.
Clearly the Mets had a sense of humor back then. They were in on the April Fools joke. But, as Opening Day is just a few hours away for the Amazins’, the team brass must feel that starting the 2013 season on April Fools Day is an omen. They start the year without their best pitcher, the only one to throw a no-hitter in team history, Johan Santana. He’s headed back under the knife on Tuesday, April 2nd. It looks like a sense of humor will serve the Mets well again this year. They haven’t sniffed the playoffs in years, and quite possibly won’t get any closer this season. On the bright side, a year after the Finch story ran, the Mets were World Champions with luck on their side. Maybe 2014 will be a better year for the denizens of Citi Field.
The Yankees also open their season at home this afternoon. Scan the line-up and you may be a bit confused. No Derek Jeter. No Alex Rodriguez. Thank goodness CC Sabathia will be on the mound; he ensures that the Yanks have at least a shot at Opening Day victory. But with the team captain (Jeter) on the Disabled List and many new faces, I’ve got to wonder how this season will shape up for the most storied team in baseball history.
The Sidd Finch story was one of SI’s most popular, generating over 2,000 letters. Finch supposedly spent some time at Harvard before hightailing it to Tibet. A yoga devotee, he took his first name from “Siddhartha.” Right now, the Mets and Yankees could use a Sidd Finch or at least some of the philosophy he reportedly studied.
Tags: april fools day, george plimpton, Mets, opening day, sidd finch, yankees