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      Wait 'til next year ... or 10 years

      It was Opening Day in New York.

      The Mets were set to host the St. Louis Cardinals for this always grand, special, event.

      There's nothing like Opening Day.

      The day was April 9.

      The year was 1963.

      The first pitch of the season from starter Roger Craig was a ball to Cardinals lead-off hitter, Curt Flood.

      A Mets' fan then held up a sign that said: "WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR!"

      First pitch of the season. Ball one. Season over.

      Perhaps the greatest sign in the history of sports. Simply fabulous.

      In the Mets' inaugural season of 1962, they went --- get this --- 40-160 and finished --- get this --- 60 1/2 games out of first place.

      60 1/2!

      Makes you appreciate the sign. And the Houston Astros.

      The Metropolitans made huge strides in 1963, however, going 51-111 (the first year for the 162-game schedule) and finished only 48 games out of first place.


      The Cardinals went on to win that 1963 opener 7-0 behind a two-hitter by Ernie Broglio. What does this have to do with 2014?

      Nothing. I just like to tell that story ... and talk about that great sign.

      On March 31 of this year, the Cards' Matt Carpenter took a strike to start the season-opening game against Johnny Cueto and the Reds in Cincinnati.

      No signs required.

      The Cardinals eventually won 1-0 on a solo home run by Yadier Molina in the seventh inning and behind a three-hitter by Adam Wainwright. But, unlike 51 years ago, Wainwright did not go the distance in the shutout win --- no less than four more pitchers were used to finish it up.

      2014, more pitchers. 1963, better signs.

      But Wainwright is considered a true thoroughbred these days with three complete games this season. He's 12-4 with a 1.83 ERA and was the starter in Tuesday night's All-Star game, a 5-3 win for the American League in Minneapolis.

      Wainwright was not at his best --- three runs in one inning. Hey, it happens. The other guys have a lot of zeroes at the end of their paychecks, too.

      Tough outing. But I think we should keep him, don't you?

      Also for the Cardinals, Molina was scheduled to start, but was obviously out due to injury; Pat Neshek took the loss, giving up two runs on three hits in the fifth inning; Matt Carpenter didn't play.

      Not a great night for the Birds, but there are bigger fish to fry.

      The Cardinals have seen more injuries than an emergency room this season, including losing three of their top six starting pitchers.

      Jaime Garcia (shoulder) is out for the season for the second straight year --- I think he's pitched to something like five batters in two seasons --- Michael Wacha is still out (shoulder) and Joe Kelly (hamstring) has just returned after missing the last two months.

      St. Louis has also been without Matt Adams and Kolten Wong at times this season, not to mention Molina.

      Still, they keep finding a way. Finding a way to compete, finding a way to win.

      Meanwhile, someone put the smelling salts under the noses of the Milwaukee Brewers. In the last two weeks, their 6 1/2-game lead has dwindled to one game over the Cardinals. The Brewers have woken up.

      Feel the rush.

      Wait 'til next year, Milwaukee.


      THE ROYALS HAVE GONE in the opposite direction of the Cardinals.

      After a win in Detroit on June 17, the Boys in Blue took over first place in the AL Central --- the first time in 11 years they'd been in first place this deep into the season.

      The Royals beat the Tigers the next day, too, to go up 1 1/2 games on Detroit.

      Pinch me, I'm dreaming? Could this really be happening?

      Answers: Probably and probably not.

      Just like the Brewers and Cardinals, these teams are who they are --- and it's showing. Since June 19, the Royals are 9-14, the Tigers have gone 17-6.

      A 1 1/2-game lead has turned into a 6 1/2-game deficit.

      It's come to my attention that it's hard to win if you can't score. In nearly half of the Royals' 94 games --- 45 of them --- they've scored three runs on or less.

      They've scored one run in 16 games and they've been shut out six times. That's 22 games with one run or less.

      Those are stunningly bad numbers. A blind man could score more in a skeet-shooting contest.

      But the cause isn't lost just yet, and it never will be when you have starting pitching like Kansas City. These guys are good. Just score, fellas. Please?

      This isn't soccer, after all.

      Here's hoping for something special to happen in the second half of the season, so Royals fans won't have to say "Wait 'til next year" for the 30th straight season.


      SING ALONG TO THE TUNE of the Mickey Mouse theme ...

      C-O-L ... O-N-O ... S-C-O-P-Y.

      I've joined the club! No big fluffy hands or feet required!

      I'd always heard the day before a colonoscopy was worse than the procedure itself. After all, during my procedure on Tuesday, I was surrounded by cute, young, fake-blondes who got a great look at my bum while I was dressed in an alluring, backless hospital gown. Spiffy. Hot.

      I think the gown was designed by Saks.

      Enjoy, girls.

      My doctor wasn't as cute, but he's a really nice guy. I don't think he enjoyed the process as much.

      Come to think of it, I don't think the girls enjoyed it very much, either.

      You're supposed to get this procedure done at age 50. Well, let's just say I was a few years late. Maybe because I didn't want a 48-inch tube of invasion entering my please-don't-touch area.

      While you stay awake during the invasion, they give you drugs so you don't know what's going on. And I didn't. It was 30 minutes and 48 inches I will never remember.


      But leading up to it ...

      No food for 36 hours. All you can have was clear liquids, like water, juice and broth. There are things in life we all take for granted until they're taken away.

      Like food.

      "What about gin, vodka, rum, tequila, white wine or peppermint schnapps? They're clear liquids, after all," I asked my nurse the day before the invasion.

      She did not find the humor in this.


      But you could also enjoy some jello and popsicles. Yes!

      I had more jello (one box) and popsicles (two) that day than I'd had in the previous 25 years combined.

      The most memorable part of pre-invasion day was drinking about 17 gallons of some liquid that's meant to "clean you out." Eight ounces, every 20 minutes. It tasted like a combination of motor oil and a dirty diaper --- with a dash of lemon.

      It led to, well, extended "breaks" about every 15 minutes. On the bright side, I caught up on my bathroom reading. I finally finished those two Reader's Digests from 2007 and a Golf Digest from 1998.

      So when the time came, I was cleaner than a Nun after a drug test for heroin.

      My procedure room at the hospital was ... guess what number? Come on, guess! Let's just say I love hospital humor.

      Number 2.

      In the end (pun intended), good news --- I was clean, all the way around. All is good.

      Wait 'til next year? Hah!

      I'm waiting at least 10.