Man, I love spring training!
It sure is hard to go without Major League Baseball, which plays more games across a longer season than any other major American sport. Last season stretched from late March to early November with at least one game almost every day, but that's not enough for me! I start craving the mere sight of pitchers and catchers as soon as the last out of the World Series is recorded.
I'm always sad when the last game of the world series is played, because baseball season is over. pitchers and catchers report in 109 days!— Steven Glen Mercure (@Redbirdsfan82) November 3, 2015
I'm always a little bittersweet the day after the World Series. No more baseball for now! About, what? 109 days to pitchers and catchers?— Jim McLauchlin (@McLauchlin) November 2, 2015
I always try to be the first one to write about how long it is until pitchers report -- it's like being the first robin of spring! But you know what's better than the first robin of spring? The first Cardinals, Blue Jays and Orioles of spring! Those are all the baseball teams named after birds.
Man, pitchers and catchers! They don't even have to play a game; I'm just happy to see guys in their baseball pants and baseball hats again. I write elegies to the sound of baseballs hitting leather gloves. There's nothing like that sound!
Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman getting work in on Day 2. https://t.co/oxorWAKIeO— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) February 22, 2016
Ahhhhhh! I waited 109 long days for that sound, with nothing but the Winter Meetings, the holiday season, and three other major American sports to keep my attention. HOW DID I SURVIVE?!?
This year I got excited by Truck Day. TRUCK DAY! It's when teams load their stuff up on a truck and the stuff leaves for spring training. Truck Day is great, because it's another way to count down the days to pitchers and catchers, something I was already doing for the previous three months.
Some of you may think I'm jumping the gun. That maybe I should wait another week until actual spring training GAMES start. And I hear you -- nothing gets my pulse pounding quite like a split-squad rivalry match in the Grapefruit League -- but I went all-in on the mere arrival of two position groups.
(•_•)— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) February 17, 2016
( (> And
<) )> Catchers
Yes. HELL YES. If it were just pitchers, they'd have to throw to backstops and go retrieve the ball every time they threw it. Just catchers, and their protective gear would be wholly unnecessary. Pitchers AND catchers, pitching and catching: two great things that go great together, like peanut butter and chocolate, or the designated hitter and VORP.
Am I overselling it? Hell no! CHECK THIS LEGENDARY SHIT OUT:
#STLCards workout begins this morning at #SpringTraining pic.twitter.com/mneibSfmBJ— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) February 19, 2016
THE BEST STRETCHING IN BASEBALL. Hearing the wind go through the microphone really helped me feel like I was there.
Twitter is an excellent resource for reconstructing the magic of spring training. You can count on beat reporters and the official Twitter accounts of teams to give you screenshots of the weather forecast, players signing autographs, and players standing around. In the fast-paced world of our digital age, beat reporters are especially tenacious about sharing these intimate portraits of our sporting heroes in the heat of the moment.
First day of official workouts. Delabar taking some PFP. #BlueJays pic.twitter.com/TRTdK5Elde— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) February 22, 2016
Of course, there's no substitute for actually attending spring training, because it is spring itself: full of youth and hope and the blooming flower of competition, doomed to wilt in the heat of August but let's not think about that right now.
[T]here's something special about a Spring Training crowd. They are there solely for the game itself, for the renewal it promises, for the future it heralds. [SoE]
YES. FUCK YES. Out of the frozen earth I am born anew in baseball pants, ready to stand around and stretch. I blink at the sun, my tiny winter irises shielded from the Florida sun by new Oakleys. My left hand, clad in leather, claps like a trained seal at a nearby unlicensed water park. The smell of fresh-cut grass brings with it the memories of childhood, dollars earned with sweat and effort in the years before riding mowers became commonplace. With every soft toss, every swing of a be-donutted bat, my senses come alive with the game that connects me to my childhood, when everything was better because I'm a white man. The nostalgia intersects with the naive hope of spring, and I write stupid sentences.
For lo, this is spring training! It's like any other sport's training camp, except people like it.