Those of you who have been to a country or countries in the eastern hemisphere can imagine how much of a shock it is to the system to go back and forth between the two, not only in terms of a culture shock, but a shock to the internal clock. For example: as you can tell from my posts, I don't go to bed until about 4AM or later on some nights. So what time did I wake up the first morning after arriving back home?
4AM, of course.
Yes, I'm home...if not quite in the pocket. So I trust that you will forgive me if you're reading this and thinking that I'm a little all over the place. (You would be all over the place too if you took a flight from Barcelona thinking that you were landing at Newark airport...only to be diverted to an Air Force base in Poughkeepsie because you don't have enough gas to remain in a holding pattern for thirty minutes...then get gas as if you were at the Dolly Madison rest stop and go up in the sky again for a half an hour to go from Poughkeepsie to Newark in a 757 airbus. And did I mention that we did all this in the rain with visibility at a mile and a quarter? All that was left to happen was for me to see Mel Rojas on the wing of the plane and I was ready to go into crash position right then and there.)
But I'm home...and after those harrowing plane rides, plus the taxi ride afterwards (I'm not going into that, but let's just say the Newark TLC got a phone call from me today), the words "I'm home" aren't just time fillers. They're pure emotion. ("I'm exhausted" could count as pure emotion as well...for the first time in a long time, I was happy that the Mets had a day off. I couldn't stay awake past 10PM last night...and that's not the blogger you know and love).
It was an amazing trip. Spain? Italy? France? The Principality of Monaco? Yes, I hit all of these places (along with Poughkeepsie), and as a result I have European culture dripping out of my pores (I plan to see a doctor about this right away). But yes, I've learned many things. Even visited the Roman Colosseum. It was a pitchers park, for sure. I learned that the park factor slanted the advantage even more in favor of the Lions over the Christians than even we thought. The Colosseum gets loads of visitors every day...so many in fact, that they say the place hadn't seen so much action since 79 B.C. when Emperor Aase gave up a home run to Augustus, and then subsequently was eaten by a Lion named Schottzie.
(The official Roman mascot back in those times was called the "Pompeii Phanatic". Our tour guide told us so.)
Also saw a young boy in a "Totti" jersey get a gas face from one of the local waiters in Rome, which is funny since this Totti character is on the Italian national soccer team, and has even played his entire career in the city of Rome. So why would a guy in Rome wince at the sight of his jersey? That's when I learned from our tour guide that the English translation of "Totti" is actually "Schoeneweis". Who knew?
You know what else I learned? Our American dollar sucks. One euro is worth about $1.44 right now. How are we a country so prosperous that we have wifi compatibility in McDonald's, but can't produce currency worth a damn? Perhaps we should put Ronald McDonald on the dollar bill and put good ol' George to rest. We're complaining about $7.00 beers at Shea? I went to the bar in our Barcelona hotel and ordered two Coca-Colas. Not the 16 ounce bottles we're used to...more like little eight ounce thimbles. For two little Cokes? Nine euros...which is like 14 bucks.
You heard right: $7.00 Cokes at eight ounces a pop. I could get wine for a piece of string, but needed to put down a mortgage for a Coke and a Coke Light (that's lingo for Diet Coke). Now Barcelona is a beautiful city but mamma mia, seven dollars for a mouthful of Coke?
I'm home. And do you know who else is home? Check out the following quote:
"I asked God, if I don't come to Atlanta, I might as well pack it up. I wouldn't go anywhere else, because at my stage and age, if I go anywhere, guys don't know how to use me and they don't know me as well as this organization.Forgive me if I'm not breaking out my kleenex for you and your egg whites, Julio.
I'm home." -Julio Franco, upon re-signing with Atlanta
Let me tell you why this bothers me, and if you're a Braves fan visiting my blog, it should bother you too. It bothers me because I can't remember the last time someone came to the Mets and proclaimed "I'm home". People always have to be convinced when it comes to the Mets. Then they leave to go "home". Franco had to be convinced about the Mets when it came to giving him the extra season on his contract, without which he would have never been here in the first place.
And that's why it should bother you Braves fans. Oh sure, you rolled out the red carpet for him with your "Ju-li-o" chants and made him feel welcome in his first game back. "Ooh, he loves us, he came home for us." No, he came home because he was hitting .200 with the Mets, and he had no real choice. Funny how when the last time Ju-li-o did have a choice at the beginning of 2006 about whether to return "home", or whether to take an extra season's contract with the arch-rivals, your beloved Ju-li-o left "home" for the money. But now, with nowhere else to turn, he goes home...like the kid who drops out of college and needs money for food so he moves back home for all the chicken and homemade brownies he can eat. Must make you Braves fans feel good.
Of course, the first thing he does with the Braves is pull a baseball for a two run single. He hasn't gotten a hit since, which mean his next one will be against the Mets in a key spot, against the team that is paying the rest of his salary. I can feel it.
But I'm home. And the Mets returned home a day after me. They were 6-3 in my absence, which is probably a good reason to have customs keep me out of the country. But I'm happy to be back...back to reasonably priced soda, sporting events that I'm familiar with (the Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona had on their big screen, of all things, the Formula One race...won by Fernando Alonso if you must know) and soap that doesn't smell like bacon (don't ask). Back to the wonder that is John Maine, pitching well and smacking one over the wall in a single bound, and Lastings Milledge throwing in a two run bomb as if to say "Franco Schmanco". Maine, Milledge, and those like them are going to have to carry me during this period of blogging rehab for me, because after a week plus away, I'm rusty. My computer is rusty. And Julio Franco has gone home, which means my old man jokes are rusty. But as long as Moises Alou and I rehab together, then things are going to end up being just fine.
Fine indeed...because I'm home.