Spring Has Sprung
Spring officially is still about three weeks away. However, baseball fans have their own calendar. And today images of the glorious green and brown baseball diamond were beamed into our homes and the Mets delivered a win, the unofficial start of spring has begun.
Finally, the embers of the hot stove have been extinguished. Talk supplanted by action. What happens on the field matters again. Trade rumors take a seat in the bleachers. Real live players step up to the plate. The sounds of the game soothe like a favorite symphony or birds chirping.
There are dates on the spring training calendar that are in bold: The day pitchers and catchers report, the first televised action from the Grapefruit League, and naturally the day the team breaks camps and heads North for Opening Day.
The rest is filler. Mostly spring training on television becomes as boring as an award show (except the Oscars) after the first few games appear. It’s fun to watch an inning or two, or to get a glimpse of a prospect like Ike Davis or Jenrry Mejia. Seeing the pitchers getting in their wind sprints in the outfield during the game is always novel.
Then March Madness begins, a perfect segue to the baseball season. As the frenetic college basketball tournament losses more and more teams, baseball appears in the cross-hairs.
All building to the perfect crescendo of Opening Day.
Some sights and sounds of spring training never get tiresome. Like seeing the palm trees sway and people camping out on the berm at Tradition Field. That helps melt away the winter blues (and also makes us a tad jealous).
Baseball awakens the senses, the vegetation, the lawn-mower, and outdoor grill. The first few weeks optimism peaks. It’s time to end the debate on what players were acquired and which ones lost.
What you see is what you get.
The team you support is right there in living color. That first peak of the newly acquired, such as Jason Bay-how does he look in a Mets uniform (and Ryan Thompson’s old number?) is always highly anticipated. What about the imports from Japan? Will they have to be recalled like many Toyotas, or are they reliable and help drive the team to victory?
Is Ollie really throwing great like pitching coach Dan Warthen says or is that bluster? Look there’s Carlos Beltran in uniform, a welcomed sight. How does Murph look at first? Did his sessions with Keith Hernandez rub off? Questions abound and spring training helps answer them.
Mostly, it reminds one to go out to the garage and search for the gloves to have that first catch. That is, when the rest of the snow finally melts and the lawn thankfully starts to reappear.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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