Pitchers, Catchers, and Panda(s), Oh My!
While you were out with your significant other on a romantic night on the town spending exorbitant amounts of money on a fancy dinner, a dozen roses, and a box of chocolates, you may have forgotten why Monday, February 14th was important. I’ll assume you, the non-single reader, were probably distracted by the festivities surrounding Valentines Day, and as such I’ll give you a pass. To everyone else, you’re fresh out of excuses. Between the pint of ice cream and chick flick you were undoubtedly reveling in, you must have realized that pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training, accompanied by Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, and a slimmed-down Kung Fu Panda.
Admittedly, I’ve struggled to find someone to match my enthusiasm for this joyous occasion up here in Seattle, partly because of the Mariners, but mostly due to the fact that a majority of people I associate with don’t share my passion for baseball. One such friend of mine asked me a curious question that I couldn’t give him an honest answer to: why are just pitchers and catchers reporting today; shouldn’t everyone get there at the same time? A fair query my friend, a fair query indeed. Outside of “it’s a time-honored tradition,” there doesn’t seem to be a practical answer.
Why shouldn’t everyone arrive in Arizona en masse? It’d certainly make the first day of Spring Training more of a downpour of enthusiasm, compared to the gradual drizzle that the step-by-step process of reassembling the Super Friends typically entails. All trivialities aside, there’s still something to be said for the long-awaited end to the baseball drought that this day brings. This time though, things feel different.
Why is this Spring Training is different from all others? Make yourself comfortable and I’ll tell you. You may be convinced that you and the rest of San Francisco was involved in the most intricate and flawlessly executed conspiracy in the history of the United States government. It’d be completely within the realm of possibility to suspect that every Giants fan was drugged and made to believe that their hapless franchise won the World Series. The rest of the country is ready and willing to allow us to believe in this elaborate lie in hopes that it will make us complacent. They smile and pat you on the head, saying things like “Yes yes, of course the Giants won the World Series, now shut up and take these pills.”
Assuming that we haven’t been plunged into a Matrix-like universe where good things happen to the Giants, I think it’s relatively safe to say that my hare-brained conspiracy theory may actually be fiction. For the first time since 1955, our hometown favorites are entering Spring Training as the reigning World Series champions. We’ve been lulled into a sense of false security, as we currently reside within a universe where the Giants do spectacularly unthinkable things in the face of adversity.
Now that we’ve reveled for the duration of the offseason though, it’s time to wash off the champagne. It’s time for Giants fans as a collective to wade through the mess of pizza boxes, throw away the empty bottles, and tell everyone passed out on the floor of your living room that the party’s over. The start of Spring Training officially signals the end of the celebration and the beginning of a whole new set of hopes, dreams, and fears that are all too real. Will Miguel Tejada really be an adequate everyday shortstop? Is Timmy’s arm due to fall off any day now? What if the sky starts falling and the walls of Jericho begin to fall? The Woody Allen-esque fretting that’s come to define the modern Giants fan has returned with a vengeance.
But don’t let this temper your enthusiasm. After long last, baseball begins once again. I recommend a mass exodus down to Scottsdale as soon as humanly possible. Wander through the desert for the next the forty or so days (I believe that’s my third biblical reference so far, but hey who’s counting). Take in the Arizona sunshine, get your baseball fix, and prepare for 2011, as this will probably be the most relaxed attitude you’ll have towards the Giants until next December.