The question of the day

The question of the day

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The weekend approaches. Or does it? It's Friday, or is it? Could be, may be. It is. But not here, not for everybody, anyway. Moises Alou knows Friday is his wife's birthday, and Tom Glavine knows "it must be Friday because my wife and kids are coming." The two veterans, though, were among a decided minority of men in the Mets' clubhouse who, on Friday morning, accurately identified the day.

For most of us, awareness of the day is pretty much a given. Not here, though, not now. Distinction is absent. The days blur together.

"It's one of the 45 straight days I have to get up early," Mike DiFelice said.

Anything beyond that was a guess for him and many of his Spring Training colleagues.

"Friday ... I think," Endy Chavez said.

"Thursday," Aaron Heilman said. And when he learned of his miscalculation, he added, "It's getting to that point when nobody knows."

Only 12 of 31 people asked provided accurate responses that were spoken without hesitation and the tone of a question -- seasoned calendar experts Alou, Glavine, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green, David Newhan and Aaron Sele; as well as youngsters Lastings Milledge, Jason Vargas, Mike Pelfrey, Joe Smith and Philip Humber. And only Reyes, Pelfrey and Smith knew for the most fundamental of reasons -- "Because yesterday was Thursday."

But Smith admitted, "I think I asked somebody yesterday." And Milledge acknowledged, "Once the games start, no one will know."

Newhan knew "because 'American Idol' and 'Grey's Anatomy' were on last night."

Sele knew because when he awoke to watch a Saturday outdoors show on ESPN, he saw weekday programming instead.

Vargas, a year-round resident of West Palm Beach, also surmised Saturday hadn't arrived because the traffic "still was bad."

For most of the others who had no such markers, the routine of Spring Training, the mind-numbing sameness, already had taken hold by the third official day of camp. Jose Valentin was almost certain of Friday, but he acknowledged, "A week from now, I won't have any idea."

Ramon Castro simplified it.

"It's the 'same day,'" he said. "Ask anyone."

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The confusion is peculiar to baseball because players are away from home and, for the most part, away from markers that afford a sense of "when they are."

They know who they are, what and where they are. "When" is the stumper.

"I know it's Friday," coach Howard Johnson said after looking up as if a calendar hung from the ceiling of the clubhouse. "But I live at home, my year-round home, so I have things that remind me. My son has a game tonight.

"But I remember not remembering. When you're a player, you just show up and the day doesn't matter."

This day did matter, though. It was Friday, the third day of Lent. A structure to the week did exist; two days earlier, some people in the clubhouse wore the mark of Ash Wednesday. Yet so few had a sense of the day Friday.

"The only reason I know," Humber said, "is than [John] Maine told me he can't eat meat today."

Delgado's wife doesn't care for fish and also is meat-restricted for Lent. The first baseman knew he had to make reservations for an Italian restaurant -- for pasta -- for Friday.

Even the exhibition season which begins one of these days -- actually Wednesday -- won't provide enough distinction to any given day because a Spring Training "week" features merely three days -- yesterday, today and tomorrow. And even those can become confusing because, as Humber said, "There aren't any weekends here."

Coach Jerry Manuel was challenged by the "Question of the Day." He thought the process of elimination would bring him to the right answer.

"Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday," he said. "It's Thursday. Right? I just know when it's Sunday because of chapel."

David Wright needed nearly five seconds of silent thought before he responded haltingly at a Steve Trachsel pace -- "It's ... uh ... the 23rd. ... And ... uh ... it's ... Friday."

Even Maine, whose dining plans had made Humber and Paul Lo Duca aware of the day, admitted he had to consult his cellular phone for the day and date.

"I literally had to look at the calendar the other day," Heilman said. And what day was that? He couldn't say.

Sele could have told him.

"Probably," he said, "it was one of those days that ends with a 'Y.'"

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.