As I sit here staring at the snow pouring down outside my window – the latest instance in a months-long deluge of powder – I find myself doing something that is only possible at this time of year: Longing for Florida and Arizona.
By rule, I generally hate those two places. I doubt that I have to enumerate the reasons for my disgust with the reclaimed swampland that is The Sunshine State. The latest grievance would probably have to be that it is now, apparently, perfectly acceptable to kill someone in that state, so long as you can concoct some cockamamie story about how you felt immediately threatened by them, e.g., they were listening to music you didnâ€™t like, looked at you cross-eyed, or expressed their dismay at you playing Candy Crush on your phone at an unacceptably high volume level.
As for Arizona, well, if you want to know what hell feels like, spend a summer in that vast wasteland.
However, every year, for a few weeks at least, these two states are my imagined Nirvana. While the rest of us can only daydream about the sound of batted balls and popping catcherâ€™s mitts, the geriatrics in those two climes get to witness it firsthand. (Add another to my list of once-a-year longings – envy of old people.)
For baseball fans of all stripes, there are few more encouraging words than â€śPitchers and catchers report.â€ť Maybe â€śPablo Sandoval came into camp 30 pounds lighterâ€ť if youâ€™re a Giants fan, or â€śDusty Baker is no longer your managerâ€ť if youâ€™re a Reds fan, or â€śAlex Rodriguez is barred from spring trainingâ€ť if youâ€™re a … any kind of fan. But to me, Pâ€™s & Câ€™s reporting is tantamount to being given The Law atop Mount Sinai.
I know now that the worst months of the year (not because of the weather, which I donâ€™t mind, but because of the dearth of baseball) are soon to come to an end. I know that I will soon hear the crack of Miggyâ€™s bat, the sharp whomp of Scherzerâ€™s fastball spiking Avilaâ€™s glove, and the prolonged gasp from the crowd as Jose Iglesias makes a gravity defying play at short.
Spring Training brings the air of excitement, of possibility, of a time when our days will once again be filled by the joys of baseball. We live in a world of instant satisfaction, of satellites, and magic, handheld boxes that contain the answers to every mystery known to man, like, â€śWhat was the name of that actor in that thing?â€ť And that makes the luxuriance of a slow winter day in Florida or Arizona, as the stars, rookies, roster-fillers, and Quad-A players attempt to find their place on each team, truly special.
Just a few more weeks, folks. Until then, bask in the glory of spring training, even if itâ€™s from afar, with a foot of snow falling on your roof.