Today is for practice. Today is a preview. Today -- besides being the first day of the rest of your life -- is the first day of Camden Yards, except not exactly.
You see, it doesn't count. The reviews and the national media and the Prez and the Cleveland Indians won't show up till Monday. This is a run-through. This is to make sure the turnstiles turn and the beer runs.
If this were a play, we'd be in New Haven. The Orioles planned this game to give everyone a chance to work through the glitches and practice saying things like, "The traffic wasn't that bad."
The coming-out party is Monday. This is a dress rehearsal.
But there is, besides the stadium, a special added attraction, as if we needed anything else. That would be the return of Ed-die.
Say it with me: Ed-die.
Practice now, because for Ed-die, today is the real thing. He comes back to our town -- it used to be his town -- for a day to perform in front of his old fans, the ones who used to chant: Ed-die. Ed-die. We miss the big guy. But, you have to remember, if the Orioles still had Ed-die, they wouldn't have Juan Bell.
The great thing for Ed-die is that he has finally found a home with the New York Mutes -- I mean Mets. You know about the Mets. They're the team that, among other interesting characteristics, does not talk to the media. You talk about karma. You talk about serendipity. You talk about it because Ed-die sure won't. Here's a guy who has spent his whole career as if he's auditioning for the lead in "The Marcel Marceau Story," and he ends up on a team where no one talks.
For Ed-die, the private and proud Ed-die, this is a dream come true. Face it, Ed-die's favorite book is "Silent Spring."
This is an exact transcript of my last interview with Ed-die.
Me: Hi, Ed-die. How's it goin'?
Now, he won't have to be bothered by such imposing questions because the scandal-of-the-week Mets (who owns this team, Bill Clinton?) have gone on record as saying -- well, they didn't actually say it; they released it -- that they ain't talkin' to no one, no time, no how. (By the way, there's at least one Mets player whose actions are stronger than words -- David "Portnoy's Complaint" Cone. Look for him in the bullpen.)
The real question is how Ed-die will be received by the fans. In other words, will he get booed?
This booing business has become a major concern of late. The Guv had been saying he might not show up at Opening Day because he was afraid he would be booed. It had been suggested that if he were introduced, it should be alongside Boog Powell, so no one would know if the fans were going b-o-o-o-o-o or B-o-o-o-o-o-g. The Guv is so concerned that he's thinking of bringing with him this 10-year-old kid you might have read about. Who's going to boo a kid? Even in Philadelphia, they don't boo kids under 12. I know, maybe Ed-die could use the kid today in a practice run.
I know who would get booed if he were ever to be introduced. That's our own Eli Jacobs, the, uh, benevolent owner of the ballclub. He never gets introduced. Private and proud E-li will be up there in his luxurious sky box that you can't even see into because he has had these big, reinforced walls constructed on either side. Either E-li put the walls up to keep out nosy people who might want to ask why he hasn't re-signed Cal Ripken or he's worried about a tank attack on the stadium or both.
Actually, I don't think Ed-die or the Guv would be booed. This is, if I've been reading the situation correctly, an era of good feeling. Here in Baltimore (am I wrong?), everyone is happy because of the beautiful new stadium, not to mention the chance to ride the light rail.
So, Ed-die, who will get all the booing he wants at Shea Stadium, has caught a break.
Many people will be so busy watching the JumboTron, they might not even notice Ed-die, much less boo him.
More people will be marveling at how their beer came out of a tube.
At Camden Yards, the proper emotion, or so I'm told, is to be awe-struck. The stadium is going to be the star attraction. The players are just props.
Also, there are many people in this town who remember Ed-die fondly. I wonder what his memories are. I wonder how he feels about coming back. I wonder if he wishes, just for a moment, that he could be aiming at the warehouse this season.
After the game, I'll head down to the Mets' clubhouse to see Ed-die and ask him how it went.
Me: Tell me, Ed-die, was it good to be back?