A miserable multitude of factors is making it difficult to get excited about the baseball season that begins in just three days, and you can kiss goodbye any chance you had at getting legitimately psyched or just totally stoked.
That's right, totally.
When you've misspent the first week of the so-called spring shoveling two tons of Virgil from your driveway, scraping ice from your windshield, bashing your knuckle on the wiper, and trudging through the sleet and the 19 degrees with an open wound while the dog is trying to yank you into a snow bank because he apparently can't poop in the street like a normal person in Bridesmaids, the simple cry of "Play Ball!" seems an inadequate balm right now.
Perhaps, I'll feel differently Sunday night, when ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball launches the season with a key American League West Division clash: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros.
The Astros lost 107 games in 2012 and are somehow already on pace to lose 117 this year. The Pirates will miss them dearly in the National League Central.
From what I can infer from the news out of Bradenton, Fla., Pirates pitching is such that the club will have to average 7.92 runs per game if it has any hope of success, or three times what it averaged per game in April 2012. You could look that up.
Elsewhere, just about every player you've ever heard of is already on the disabled list. You know it's bad when instead of posting the starting pitchers, the major media outlets have decided to go with "Guy Whose Arm Doesn't Hurt So Bad vs. Guy Whose Arm Is Killing Him And Will Undoubtedly Need Tommy John Surgery.
In this difficult baseball karma, you sometimes have to look for good news in unexpected places, or, at the minimum, hope against hope that some outpost where baseball remains a simple game with gentle quotidian charms sends along good tidings for a nation in need.
So thanks for nothing you Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.
That's not a pejorative spasm, by the way. The Philadelphia Phillies Class AAA affiliate in Allentown, Pa., apparently not content just to be called the Ironpigs, which is awesome, has installed video games in its stadium urinals for the upcoming season.
In a development that I only wish I were making up, it appears that streaming live will be getting a whole new definition. So if your rented beer successfully hits a target inside the urinal, a video display translates that into game action, in one case involving imagery of a skier soaking some penguins.
The details are obviously difficult to explain in a family newspaper, but the Allentown Morning Call's Tim Darragh at least managed to describe the raw essentials with the inspired phrase, "Bladder Up!"
If that were the end of it, I would be content to be merely horrified, but it's only the beginning. Once your score is posted on the video screen, you can use your smart phone to put your score online, with the leading scorers listed on the stadium display boards.
So it's a smart phone is it?
Then, I suppose, you can return to your seat and explain to your daughter what those big numbers are. You thought it was hard explaining earned run average.
As a public-relations cover for this caper, the Ironpigs roped in a sponsor, Lehigh Valley Urology Specialty Care, which will help present this initiative as a prostate health awareness program. Because nothing goes better at a ballgame than a between-innings reminder about acute or chronic prostate infections, lumps on the bladder, growths on the prostate, frequent and/or painful urination and erectile dysfunction.
The urinal video game is from the relentless innovators at Captive Media, according to the Ironpigs, but it was the impetus that's so darn depressing.
As international Captive Media salesman Ed Gundrum put it, "an ordinary, boring trip to the washroom becomes the highlight of the evening."
I don't know what kind of baseball the Ironpigs will be playing this year, but I'll bet it's great to know it can easily be trumped for pure entertainment by the fascinating action of standing in front of a urinal and whipping out your smart phone.
No plans are in place for the female version of this game, much less for the future of ladies and girls on the urination leader boards, but you can only hope that one day they will have A League of Their Own.
The Ironpigs open Tuesday against Reading.
I hope it snows 18 inches.
If not, I've got the perfect anthem singer: Whiz Khalifa.mobilehome - genecollier
Gene Collier: firstname.lastname@example.org.