We forget about this. Every damned offseason. We forget about the raging torrent of dashed hopes and injury-related despair that shows up in the first month of spring. We count down the days until pitchers and catchers report. We annoy your Facebook friends and family alike when that day gets here. Pitchers and catchers report! Pitchers and catchers report! Pitchers and catchers report!
You know what happens after pitchers and catchers submit their report? A baseball god reviews it. He's a priggish sort, and he asks every 20th pitcher to climb into a box. The pitcher doesn't want to climb into a box. The baseball god stops requesting, starts demanding. The pitcher gets into the box. That's what spring training is, apparently. It's not the beautiful sunrise we were all promised. It's a sunrise that we all have to stare at, doing exactly what our science teachers told us not to. Now our retinas are all gooey and ruined.
Spring is supposed to be about hope. Anyone should have hope in March, even the very worst teams. The Phillies? Even in those soulless computer simulations, the stars align every 200 times or so. The old players bathe in the Cocoon waters, the two aces at the top of the rotation pitch as well as they ever have, and unexpected rookies and veterans all come through. Stranger things have happened. Stranger rosters have surprised.
And then the baseball gods salted the earth where they grew the hope, so that no hope may grow ever again. Those silly, unrealistic hopes were silly and unrealistic, but they belonged to people who spent all winter without baseball. Have some respect.
Do you remember what Rangers fans went through last year? It was some real Old Testament stuff, poxes and locusts and floods, and everything was ruined. It began to fade after the last out of the World Series, though. Holland sure looked great, didn't he? Fielder will be back, Profar's shoulder should be better, Choo and Fielder can't be that bad again, and ...
Rangers fans didn't get the luxury of one meaningful game, one lousy game where Ramble Chunshapp isn't pitching to a 25-year-old A-baller by the third inning. They didn't even get the optimism of a full Cactus League, with Darvish pitching into the sixth inning and stretching out before he broke.
This all comes up for obvious reasons:
There's almost nothing worse than a young pitcher getting hurt, considering optimistic fans have already penciled every one of them in for 200 innings and an ERA below 3.00. That's what young pitchers always do until most of them start pitching, and Stroman was one of the brightest lights in that particular sky. Have you seen him pitch?
He's diminutive lighting in a teeny-tiny bottle, the spiritual successor to the Tim Lincecum we used to know. The good things that were supposed to come the Blue Jays' way this year were going to pass through Port Stroman. Instead, he's going to miss the season because of bunting drills. This is Ned Yost's fault.
Blue Jays fans have waited longer for a postseason appearance than the fans of any other team, and most of them likely spent the offseason thinking about that postseason appearance. Bunting -- the good kind -- hanging from the perimeter of Rogers Centre. Geddy Lee throwing out a first pitch. Marcus Stroman getting the nod in Game 1 after his deliriously magical season. Jose Bautista hitting a dinger for each one of the people he follows on Twitter, and hitting them all 500 feet.
Instead, there's no Stroman. There are still ways to be optimistic about the season, but it takes a lot more suspension of disbelief than before. The hope seems more hollow after a major injury to a prized young talent, too. This is how baseball really works:
Remember, the Giants won the World Series last year with Matt Cain on the shelf and Timmy at the glue factory— Drew Fairservice (@DrewGROF) March 10, 2015
But that's not going to console anyone yet. We have to see it happen first, we have to see the Blue Jays win 20 games in April. We have to watch, I don't know, Charlie Morton come over in a trade and lay sinker-strewn waste to the AL East. Right now, all we know is that one of the best young pitchers in baseball is hurt because this is a horrible sport with an entire month to practice its horrible black magic.
The feeling will pass. There will be wins, losses, thrills, chills, funs for the whole family. Then 29 teams will end their seasons in disappointing fashion, feeling jealous of an unexpected team that thrives because of unexpected circumstances. That team might still be the Blue Jays. It really might.
If it's not, though, everyone will go into the offseason and heal themselves with irrational optimism yet again. By the time we get to next spring, it's going to be pitchers and catchers report, pitchers and catchers report, pitchers and catchers report. We forget about what's in that report, though. It's doom. March isn't about hope. It's about doom. April is about hope until it's about doom when you put it that way. September is about hope until it's about doom. October is definitely about hope until it's about doom. That's what baseball is like for the vast majority of fans, players, and teams.
Baseball is nothing but salted, pickled doom that never spoils or goes bad. It's always there, in a jar, waiting for you to open it. Won't you open it? We always think it's a good idea.
The only good news is that we forget about March doom every year. We'll be back next spring with the same hopes. Some of us will even be right about them. Hey, Marcus Stroman will be back next year. We'll get excited about that. We'll all remember just how fun it is to watch him pitch ...