The Building Anticipation
Surfing through my usual lineup of Giants-based news sites today, I came across something that had completely slipped my mind. On the homepage of SFGiants.com is a countdown to the report date for pitchers and catchers. Up until that point, I had forgotten that the report date is looming. In a weeks time, baseball season will have sort of unofficially begun. For those of you who have gotten their baseball-fixes in the offseason by freebasing MLB Trade Rumors on an hourly basis, this is welcomed news.
It’s easy to lose sight of this preseason excitement after an October full of playoff teams you have no emotional investment in. The frustration is compounded by what feels like an endless offseason. Combine this with the fact that none of the people you hang out with care or want to hear about the Giants’ chances to win the West, and it’s a recipe for disaster. The depressed baseball fan who hasn’t gotten their fix in too long will oftentimes result to drastic measures (think Sunday afternoons spent watching Major League 11 times in a row).
For the casual fan, the offseason means basketball and football season. For the diehard, it means so much more. It’s six months without the game that takes emotional precedence from April through October. If your teams is fortunate enough to make it to the World Series, its baseball until November. After the Series though, you’re cut off cold turkey. No more screaming at the TV set between the hours of 7 and 10pm. No more debating the designated hitter with your American League friend who clearly doesn’t understand that nine players, not ten, make a lineup. No more giving up on your team in July only to jubilantly celebrate a pennant race in September.
With Spring Training fast approaching, the pain of the offseason is coming to a close. Whether or not you think the Giants will do well in 2010, you’re still going to watch. You’ll still curse the heavens when Bengie Molina sneaks his way back into the cleanup spot. The same rage will be there when Aaron Rowand strikes out on another slider in the dirt. It’s not all pain though. There’s the joy of watching Jonathan Sanchez throw a no-hitter. Or the hilarity of Pablo Sandoval lumbering around the bases to leg out a triple.
Spring Training represents the gateway into the season we laugh and cry over. The beauty and uniqueness of baseball is in that for six months out of the year, it’s there every day. In a cruel twist of fate, it disappears without a trace after the final pitch of the World Series. In just seven days though, the long wait will come to a close, and you can start reminding your friends that Opening Day is in x amount of days (even if they don’t want to hear it).
With all this in mind, I’ll end with a quote from one of my favorite baseball movies. If this doesn’t make you yearn for April then I don’t know what will:
“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.” –Terence Mann, Field of Dreams