February 23, 2010
It's February. And pitchers and catchers have reported to the warm sunshine of Arizona and Florida. While major networks and casual sports fans reserve baseball talk for the period of time from the end of the Super Bowl through the end of the World Series, for me, the subject of baseball is never far from my brain. I've been following free agents, arbitration cases, and injury updates since before Thanksgiving. Since the Yankees recorded the final out of the Series, actually. See, I don't care about most other sports at all. Sure, there's a mild interest in football... and I can deal with basketball. Everything else just doesn't hit me, you know?
And soon they'll be playing games from Tampa to Tempe and I couldn't be more excited. As I posted on my blog earlier this month, I get to go to Spring Training this year! Through all of my fandom I've never made the six-hour trek east of Southern California to the Cactus League action of Arizona. Now I'll get the chance, if only for a weekend. I'll catch two games and, if I love it, maybe I'll do five next year! Anyone have any tips to get the most out of my Spring Training experience?
But it's not just the chance to run around the Spring Training ballparks... players reporting means it's time to dust off my old cleats, throw the ball around with friends, and get my fantasy team squared away. It means I can mail off some autograph requests. It means spring's around the bend-we can all go outside again and (hopefully) see the sun shining. It means we're a little bit closer to the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim... which I'm hoping to get tickets to go see. It means I can try to snag my first game home run, break my single-game record of seven baseballs snagged, and try to get a new commemorative (or two). Just typing it out gets me psyched!
For me, baseball season never really stops. It just gets a little less active. I'm not driving to a stadium every week. I don't have as many bruises or scrapes on my legs and ankles. My autograph collection stays fairly stationary. But baseball's still happening. There's the Arizona Fall League... there's the Caribbean Series and Winter Ball. Players are vying for jobs; trying to make themselves ready for the season that's coming. Even in February I feel like baseball's already in full swing.
I'll miss the Twins in Anaheim to start the season (BUMMER!) but it's because I'll be in New York City for a school gig. And I get to see Citi Field while I'm there. I'll be at a Mets game on the 7th or 8th of April. And I'll probably make it to an exhibition before I leave SoCal. So, you see that baseball season is always around. It doesn't start April 4th and end with a Game 7... at least for me. What's your feeling about it? I mean, MLB Network makes it easy to see my point-even if I don't actually get that cable channel.
Matt Jackson is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.