Okay, so I don’t entirely mean that headline. As usual, I’ve been looking forward to spring training since late November. In fact, I always have to stop myself from needlessly capitalizing it — Spring Training — because it seems like it ought to be some kind of official holiday, like Christmas or Independence Day.
So it’s not that I’m not happy that, starting this weekend, we’ll get something vaguely resembling real baseball news. It’s just that I don’t actually want spring training — I want real baseball. Spring training is a plate of carrot sticks and celery when you’re craving a huge hamburger and fries. It’s fine at first, but hardly a long-term substitute.
Sure, the first few days are blissful. Photos of Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada loosening up, stretching hamstrings and that sort of thing. Noting that someone got skinny and someone else fully enjoyed the holidays. Seeing all those shiny pitching prospects practically glowing with promise, before the real world tarnishes them. Seeing that, somewhere, skies are blue and the sun is shining, and the whole world isn’t like New York, covered in filthy gray slush. Yes, there is hope… yes, baseball is coming.
But: still not for six weeks. That’s the thing. Once you’ve looked at the sunny photos for a few days, and then a few weeks later once you’ve watched a few games, which are a pale imitation of real games in that no one really gives a hoot about them and the teams play accordingly, spring training is pretty much a six-week dry hump. If a player does well in spring training, it doesn’t mean he’ll do well in the regular season, so you can’t fully enjoy it. If he plays badly, you worry anyway even though, again, it doesn’t mean a thing. It’s good to see prospects you don’t normally get to see on television, but it’s no substitute for genuine baseball where the score is important, or at least as important as a baseball score ever is.
Of course, the good news there is that six weeks isn’t really such a long time. And I guess that’s why I still look forward to spring training… we’re not out of the dark yet, but it’s the light at the end of the tunnel.