February 21, 2011
Last year, the subject of one of my first columns on this website was Opening Day and why it is an un-official American holiday. However, the long wait until from the beginning of Spring Training to Opening Day can be a long and mentally taxing one; and is often even worse than the wait during baseball's offseason.
Right now in Sioux City IA, I surprisingly sit with most of our snow melted. After the horrible winter last year in which we received over 10 feet of snow, we've been spared, for the most part, of the blizzards that have rocked the northern plains and east coast. Last week high temperatures averaged 50+ degrees, even rising into the 60s on Thursday.
Surprisingly, my body is itching for my two summer passions of cycling and baseball now more than in past years when snow still covered the sidewalks and snow banks still towered over parking lots.
Unfortunately for myself and millions of die-hard baseball fans around the country, Opening Day is 39 days away. And with the exception of the lucky few who will travel to it, spring training will not quench the thirst for baseball. So, what can you do to be in the next month to be in tip top ballhawking shape come opening day? And how can your inner baseball fan have fun during the long wait until opening day?
First of all, lift weights and hit the gym. Focus on being in great physical form come the beginning of April. Although it may take you a few games to get back in the swing of things once the season begins, if you are in shape physically you should be able to out run the competition.
Second of all, practice the using the glove trick and any other ball retrieving devices you may have. Ball retrieving devices can be a very important weapon in a ballhawk's arsenal. Depending on how stealthy you man need to be in using your device, you may also need to practice being very quick and deliberate in your use of it.
Third, watch spring training. Though it might be tough, pre-season baseball is baseball. If you don't have anything better to do, watching a spring training game while doing chores, like say cleaning the house, can be an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday or Sunday and get work done in the process.
Fourth, do your research. As I stated in my December article, "Winter Ballhawking Blues", doing your research can be a great way to fill time. Now is a better time than ever to try do that research because most teams start selling single game tickets this week. If you have identified the park and games you want to go to, you may think about getting your tickets this if your game will be a hot ticket.
Fifth and finally play baseball. If you are lucky enough to have the snow melted or nearly gone, play God's great game! Because spring training just started, and Opening Day is right around the corner baseball is in the air! Have your kids play spring league baseball if they'd like to. Go outside and play catch with your father or or son. If you are still young enough, organize games with kids on the street. Get outside when the weather is warm enough because my friends baseball season is here!
Phil Joens is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.