So, it is almost time again.
Time for green grass, and wooden bats, and soft leather and sliding pits and rosin bags. Time see the sun shine down again, time for the bold, solid colours of thirty different teams to pop out in contrast to the green field. Cardinal Red, Baltimore Orange, Pirate Yellow.
They will line up with their coaches, trainers and manager. First, only pitchers and catchers. There will be soft toss, bullpen sessions, simulated games. Baseball starts slow. It eases the mind and the body into a new season, but an old routine. In the first week, there will be no hard slides, no elbows up, and no pitches ‘with a message’. When everybody arrives in camp, (and it seems more like summer camp than training camp in all the pictures), they feel like this could be the year.
Baseball does not have the kind of playbook that basketball or football does. There is no need to hash out routes and timing on chalkboards and whiteboards. Players stand out on the grass and stetch and long toss. They chat and smile between sessions of wind sprints and jumping jacks. Before the grind of a game every day, of endless hours in the cage and on the mound, there is this little space. These moments of untapped potanetial.This could be the year. Anything can happen.
When camp opens, there are a few very special days. Nobody is injured, and there are no stats to measure progress. Every person on the roster is in the same uniform, and they are all Ballplayers. Most of them have spent most of their lives trying to reach this point, to live and breathe baseball. Spring training starts, and for a few days, nobody gets cut, nobody strikes out. There is only the crisp new uniform, and the potential for today to be a great day.
Florida and Arizona will soon be the temporary home to every big league ballplayer on planet earth. Then you can add on all of the future stars in camp, and the former players and Hall of Famers in camp as coaches and executives. There are great gatherings and pilgrimages for all walks of life, there are rituals an rites of passage to let us know when life has reaches it’s next stage. This is baseball’s holy land, where minor league fields are elveated by major league play. As the boys of summer begin another journey, let us think about all the great at bats, slick double plays, clean line drives and filthy sliders they have all thrown. All those memories are gathered together for a few short weeks each year, and then scattered across two countries for the next six months, creating another season’s worth of stories worth repeating.
It’s almost time to make it happen again, boys.
Let’s play ball.