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Emphasize the word “spring” in spring training

March 18, 2016
Bob Madison - Chronicle Sports , Shepherdstown Chronicle

"Cabin Feve." Biting winter winds. More than three feet of snow on Jan. 23. Unruly weather that casts a pall on your attitude.

Get it over with!

Bring on spring with its promise of warm sunshine, muted breezes that are filled with the sounds of happy-go-lucky birds and the smells of happy-go-lucky barbecues and barbecuers.

Spring . . . with its lures of baseball, lazy days of fishing, comfortably-paced walks along nature trails and picnics and their aftermeal time for a nap in the shade.

Longer days and softer nights. Leisure time and finding the ways to fill it while smiling all the way.

Soon enough it will be April and the sweet sound of a baseball being met by the perfectly timed swing of a Louisville Slugger bat.

Even now, it's Spring Training in Florida and Arizona for the Major Leaguers.

Fifteen teams in Florida. Fifteen teams in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona.

Everybody's undefeated. Everybody's rookies are destined for Copperstown's Hall of Fame. All the injuries from 2015 are long cured. All the free agents your team has lured to its roster are ready for banner years.

The reality of just how ordinary your team might be is still more than a month away.

Spring Training games are filled with nostalgic talk of the Good Old Days when Berra, Mantle and Ford owned the World Series and Mazeroski, Clemente and Vernon Law waxed wonderful at Forbes Field for many a summer.

The aged and mostly retired Snow Birds of the North Country remember when each league had only eight teams instead of the 15 that will hassle over the two pennant races here in 2016.

Baseball is a sport steeped in tradition and honeyed-over with statistics.

"Do you realize Matt Wieters had only 25 RBIs last season?"

"Can the Cardinals continue to hold off the Cubs and Pirates without John Lackey and Jason Heyward?"

"Do you remember when the 1954 Indians had a sterling crew of starting pitchers in Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia and Bob Feller?"

"Can Kansas City continue to catch lightning in a bottle and outpitch and outrun every team now breathing its dust?"

"New York has old-timers aligned like tarnished bowling pins all over its infield and outfield. Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Carlos Beltran are all much-injured or on the back side of 36 years old."

"Boston has finished dead last in its division in three of the last four seasons. Are Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Clay Buchholtz, Mookie Betts, 40-year-old David Ortiz, oft-injured Dustin Pedroia, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley, Jr. going to carry Beantown to another division title like was predicted for the Boys of Fenway last season?"

"Who was better . . . Brooks Robinson or Manny Machado? . . . Bryce Harper or Roy Sievers? . . . Max Scherzer or Camillo Pascual? . . . Adam Jones or Ken Singleton? . . . Buck Showalter or Earl Weaver? . . . Eddie Yost or Anthony Rendon?"

Spring Training is also an attitude.

Breath in that coastal and central Florida air (while you can before the humidity and sweat-producing temperatures envelop Ft. Myers, Brandenton or Lakeland).

Sun screen. Sun hat. Sun glasses. At least it's about the sun and not the snow

Shorts. Sleeveless cotton shirts. A fan to move back and forth to keep the Snow Bird cool. A program to learn the newest player's numbers and names. At least it's not being dressed like Byrd at the Antarctic or snow shovelers amid the drifts of high-piled white stuff.

It's Spring. Hail the change of seasons. Hail the final conquest of winter.

Play ball! It's nearly April.

 
 
 

 

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