Bring on Baseball
Puppy Bowl Super Bowl has come and gone, effectively bringing an end to football season. We all know what that means – BASEBALL IS UPON US!
There are eight days until pitchers and catchers report, and the truck to Goodyear is packed and ready to go. It’s about time, because this is the time of year when I begin to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder, and nothing snaps me right out of it like knowing that baseball is on the horizon. It’s a personal tradition of mine to listen to the first Spring Training game while drinking a margarita, because hearing Marty call baseball and tequila are two of my favorite things and it makes me very happy. I’m crying thinking about it right now.
Everyone gets excited about Spring Training. At first. I get approximately 14 tweets a day informing me how many days are left until pitchers and catchers report. For the first week or so, everyone is so happy that it’s almost time for baseball. After that, the novelty seems to wear off. I’m guilty of it just as much as the next guy – the games have no effect on the regular season, they give little to no representation of how the season is going to go, and after four innings, they throw in the B-Squad. The games are often tedious and boring, and sometimes, when watching or listening to them, I accidentally find myself clipping my toenails or online dating. A lot of outfits whose tweets I follow or blogs I read don’t have good or bad things to say about Spring Training – they just don’t care. So the question is, do YOU actually care about Spring Training?
Before you say yes or no, consider this: I think most people are more interested in what Spring Training represents, rather than the games themselves. Pitchers and catchers reporting is a concrete date that people can use to gauge the proximity of baseball. It represents that indescribable feeling that one can only get from watching or listening to a game, the refreshing optimism of a new season, the warmth when everything is new and fresh and anything is possible, and the feeling that maybe, just maybe, this could be the year. It’s about the promise that, in less than two months, we’ll be back at the ballpark, cheering on our boys in red. It’s the fact that 38 practice games stand between us and the magic of the ballpark. It’s for the guys at Goodyear whose jerseys are numbered above 70, to whom being invited to Spring Training is their greatest life accomplishment to date. It’s the rose-colored nostalgia for the sights, smells, sounds, and emotions brought to us by baseball season, and the people who go to Great American Ballpark to experience them. It’s about fans, big, medium, and small, helping to create this community of people who give guys like Bob Castellini, Dusty Baker, Joey Votto, and the elevator operator a reason to go to work every day. It’s about you.
So, while Spring Training games might not be the most exciting, or the most athletic, or the most interesting, they mean more than you think. This doesn’t mean you actually have to pay attention to the game past the first few innings, if at all. It doesn’t mean you need to be taking your grocery money to your bookie for the over/under (I mean, if that’s what you want to do, then by all means), and it doesn’t mean that you actually have to place any importance whatsoever on Spring Training batting averages. All you have to do is recognize the importance and the impact that Spring Training has on the idea of baseball, and that will be enough for me.