There is one thing you can always count on from the sports pages this time of year. Cliched homages to spring, rebirth and boyhood as newspapermen and bloggers alike try to put a fresh spin on pitchers and catchers. I thought I’d take a stab at the art, see if I could compete. I was going to mix in some actual sports writing, see if you could tell the difference, but who wants to do that kind of research? All of these, like much of what I produce here, are completely made up…
- Piles of snow, amassed over a long, dark and hapless winter have finally begun to melt. The rivers of hope that emerge, flow south, ultimately ending up in destinations like Fort Myers, Clearwater, and Port St. Lucie.
- The short days of winter can lull you to sleep, the low slung sun offering a weak approximation of a summer afternoon and making grown men long for the day when they are awoken by the pop of Rawlings rawhide into fresh leather.
- You can have Punxsutawney Phil, I measure the passing of winter by the arrival of the boys of summer. The telltale symphony of metal cleats on the dugout steps beats a fictional groundhog any day.
- Every year they come, fresh faces, and old pros, making a pilgrimage to the once sleepy towns of Florida and Arizona, a modern day quest for eternal youth and boyhood, part Peter Pan, part Ponce de Leon.
- I remember my first spring training, February of ’67, a young and eager scribe stumbled off the plane to commune with the snowbirds and bask in the refreshing salty breeze. Forty-four springs later, the names and places have changed, but when the rising sun lights up the fields of the Carpenter Complex, I still feel like that fresh faced kid.
- I wonder who ever thought of such perfection? Grass meets dirt, expertly manicured chalk lines just so, the puff of smoke from the rosin bag, breathing life into a new year.
- Before you can picture a parade in November we must endure the time honored pacing of baseball’s marathon.
- Some sounds even the most veteran reporter cannot do justice. The first crack of the bat, the hiss of the seams from a phenom’s fastball must be experienced first-hand.
- The clubhouse, stocked with crisp new jerseys, polished maple, snow white pearls, and mountains of chewing gum looks like every American boy’s fantasy, and even the grown up boys who play our national pastime take pause to admire the new tools of the trade for the coming season.
- I wonder if Abner Doubleday ever could have pictured this?
- For many of the rookies, those with offensive line type numbers on their backs, the taste of the good life will be brief. In the coming weeks the majority will be sent back to minor league camp with little fanfare, but on this, the first day of spring, everyone feels like a Major Leaguer.
Anyway, happy Spring Training.