Today is Valentine’s Day, a day for loving the ones you already love, but also for loving the ones you hope to love even more in the near future. So it’s fitting that this year, Valentine’s Day is also the day that pitchers and catchers report, bringing an end to the deadest two weeks in American professional sports, and signaling that spring is finally here.
Because spring training is baseball’s time of love. There is plenty of love to go around for both the veterans you already love, and the young prospects you hope to love very soon. It is a time when every aging veteran has just come back from a new conditioning program and looks better than he has in years. Every rookie seems to have a bit of pop in his bat or a fastball with some good late movement. Everyone seems to have an shot to make the team, and every team seems to have a shot to make big things happen.
What is Spring Training?
Spring Training is Ryan Dempster guaranteeing that the Cubs will win the World Series this year.
It is 2-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez showing up in the Cardinals camp as a non-roster invitee, two years removed from his last pro season, in which he managed to get only one at-bat.
It fans dreaming just how good Clay Buchholz or Joba Chamberlain might be this year.
Spring Training is teams like the White Sox and Astros actually thinking they have any chance of contending. And really, who’s to tell them that they don’t?
Now I know somewhere in the back of my mind that not quite everything is perfect in Baseball Land, and that there was some pretty nasty business going down on Capitol Hill yesterday. And I’ll admit that I myself was riveted to the screen watching it.
But that was before. That was what we clung to for some semblance of entertainment during the dark and dying days of winter.
Today pitchers and catchers have reported, and I am already forgetting. Now there is only the crack of bats, the smack of leather on leather, blue skies, and the smell of fresh green grass. It is officially springtime, baseball is back, and anything seems possible.