Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Countdown to spring training

In one week and one day, we get to hear the four most optimistic words in the English language: pitchers and catchers report.

The unofficial holiday and beginning of the major league baseball season is anticipated with high hopes by many, many baseball fans each year. Spring training washes away any disappointment from the season before and brings a new sense of optimism toward what may come this year.

Spring training is not reserved for losing teams though. Even Yankee fans, who were able to enjoy a World Series, the possibilities of the upcoming season are exciting. In spring training, any team can look like a champion.

Some teams’ pitchers and their counterparts will arrive at spring training sites Feb. 17, and the rest will arrive Feb. 18. Position players are set to report to camp Feb. 23.

The baseball season is a long one, to say the least. But in late February the players are excited about the team’s potential.

Young players are looking to make a name for themselves. Coaches are a keeping a keen eye for improvement. Veterans are going through the drill all over again.

Not to mention there is all that ‘chatter’ the players have been away from for three and half months: “Alright, alright!” “C’mon now!” “Right at the mitt!” “Atta baby!”

If you want to get a sense of spring training – and like me can’t wait for it – I say the best movie for that is Major League. Though the movie is a comedy and many parts are silly, it gives a look at the different personalities that meet inside the clubhouse.

If you want a first person account of spring training and the rest of the baseball season, check out Jim Bouton’s book Ball Four. Bouton, a knuckleball pitcher, talks into a recorder every day during the Seattle Pilot’s (now the Milwaukee Brewers) expansion season, sharing all the ins and outs of the professional baseball world.

Either Major League or Ball Four get me excited for the baseball season - not that it takes much. Then when pitchers and catchers report and players arrive the following week you know where you can find me. I’ll be that guy with my nose buried in the sports page looking for any blurb or report from Arizona and Florida that my give me an indication of how the 2010 season will play out.

Play ball!

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