The Dog Days of Spring Training

As we officially enter the purgatory known as the “dog days of spring training” it’s hard not to become antsy.  We can hear the sizzle of an upcoming season, but long to taste it.  Whoever said patience is a virtue had to be a baseball fan around this time of year.


With opening day less than two weeks away, everyone-fans, players, managers, and sportswriters have grown tired of the monotony of spring training.


How many wind sprints can a player run and bullpen sessions a hurler throw?  How much fine-tuning can a hitter before his calluses form calluses?  Or, how much can fans discuss the probable Mets fifth starter and the identity of the 25th man before turning blue?


How many stories written about the upcoming campaign? It’s time to Play Ball, for keeps already.


Why does it take 30 practice games and seven weeks of training for the players to deem themselves game ready?  For instance, a pitcher only has a finite amount of innings in his arm why exhaust them in March?


Certainly, the expectations have been lowered with the six-seven-inning stint becoming the norm.  Does a young arm need that much preparation to throw 100 pitches?  Maybe pitchers should revamp their regiments and start shedding the rust in late January.


If so, maybe the pitchers could be game ready by the last week of March instead.  Then get rolling one week earlier. 


Perhaps the schedule makers could avoid Chicago and New York and start the season in warm weather climates and domed stadiums. The hitters would love that.  Moreover, the World Series would belong exclusively to October.


Let’s face it there are only two important spring training dates: When pitchers and catcher’s report and when camp breaks.  The rest is just filler.


The WBC did provide a bit of a diversion.  Seeing some of the games best players representing their homelands a novelty that withered away when the games became snore-fests


However, David Wright’s clutch hit woke me up in my chair for a short while.  The Nationalistic excitement tempered when I realized the star third-baseman was being suffocated under a sea of humanity.  In essence, that underscored the prevailing theme of the WBC and spring training in general:


“Please God don’t have any of my players get injured and lost for the season in March.”


(Do any Jets fans remember losing Joe Namath in two consecutive pre-seasons?  The disappointment that the season was over before it began was heart wrenching.) 


Seeing Wright limp clad in a USA uniform was no less nerve wracking than if he was dressed in blue and orange.  Nevertheless, seeing him play on due to a short bench was disconcerting, to say the least. 


Hopefully that will be all the drama left in an endless spring.  Johan Santana provided some moments and all the other bumps and bruises, common in spring training, will heal.


Do what you can to survive the next 13 days.  Fill out your brackets and enjoy the diversion of college hoops.  Clean up the yard or take the kids to the movies.  Personally, I plan to avoid the remaining Florida exhibition games and set the alarm for April 3rd when Citi Field opens for major league baseball, a couple of Mets-Red Sox exhibitions, and the last.


The following Monday it all begins for real in Cincinnati and spring training will be a distant memory.