It happens every year. The World Series ends, forcing me to endure a year of hearing these guys, or those guys, or, worst of all, that team again referred to as World Champions. I put that aside and start the countdown. There are some distractions of course. Football and hockey and off-season moves and debates about whether Fearsome Hitter or Guy That Just Knew How To Win belong in the Hall of Fame (they don’t). But really the only thing that matters is this: how many days until Opening Day?
Football ends, and then we get serious. Pitchers and catchers report. Optimism abounds. Pitcher has been working on New Pitch over the off-season. Player shows up to camp In The Best Shape Of His Life. Games featuring minor league guy are played. Slowly, the regulars play deeper and deeper into games. You know it’s right around the corner when there’s speculation that Journeyman Relief Pitcher might play a key role in the bullpen because he’s given up one run in five innings of Grapefruit League ball. A couple of real games are played in the middle of the night. Teams stop playing each other and start playing younger versions of themselves. The first game in New Stadium gets the attention for one day, and then it’s here.
The bunting is up. Aces are warming up in the pen. The starters line up along the baselines. Play ball.
Happy New Year.
Ace is back from injury, and pitches a solid five. Remaining Star drives in New Guy to take the lead. Revamped Bullpen brings locks down the victory. Taking care of business. Undefeated. First place. Tied at least. Everything is right in the world. Except . . . Except . . .
THEY DON’T PLAY TOMORROW! After all the waiting, after all the build up, after all the predicting, it’s all a tease. They play on Opening Day and then they have a scheduled day off. And just like that, it’s winter again.