Monday, March 31, 2008

King of Queens

The 2008 baseball season begins today for the New York Mets.

Forget about who will be the fifth starter in the Mets rotation, or who will be their eighth inning reliever.

The big question in Queens this season is: Who is the better chess player, John Maine or Aaron Heilman?

Checking a mate: Other roster changes -- notably the departures of Shawn Green, Paul Lo Duca and Mike DiFelice -- have enhanced Maine's standing in another corner of the clubhouse life: Chess. Though he readily admits gaining stature by default, Maine is certain he has no match in the clubhouse.

Aaron Heilman will debate that with him, bringing a sly smirk to Maine's face.

"Yeah, all right," Maine said.

The next rainy day will tell, though Heilman's growing fascination with cribbage may change the playing field in this ongoing, one-on-one confrontation.