Winter’s dreary days drag a gray blanket over the cold world. Spirits plunge along with thermometers’ mercury. Bare branches, brown grass, and pale skin long for the sultry stroke of sunshine. Instead, the chill of February rain makes winter blues fade to black.
Then four mystical, marvelous, miraculous words declare: “Pitchers and catchers report!”
The magical incantation causes Old Man Winter to vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the light pierces the clouds with golden streams of promise. Morning temperatures receive an early wakeup call from spring. Branches bud, lawns green, and the sun shines.
Winter does not officially end until March 21. However, an early harbinger of warmer days arrives with the advent of baseball’s Spring Training.
The American and National League teams practice in the sunny climes of Florida and Arizona in preparation for Opening Day. Pitchers and catchers arrive first to warm up their arms after the off-season hiatus.
John Fogarty, former lead singer of Creedence Clearwater Revival, wrote a baseball anthem entitled Centerfield. The rock beat declares:
Well, beat the drum and hold the phone—the sun came out today!
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.
A-rounding third and headed for home, it’s a brown-eyed handsome man;
Anyone can understand the way I feel.
Then the chorus expresses a sentiment that any child of the game intuitively understands:
Oh, put me in coach, I’m ready to play today.
Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today.
Look at me, I can be, centerfield!
The calendar says its mid-February, but I smell worn leather, cut grass, and hotdogs. The Boys of Summer are back, and spring cannot be far behind!
Author’s note: I wrote this blog several weeks ago when I assumed that owners and players would act like adults and reach an agreement. I obviously overestimated the parties’ abilities to negotiate in good faith. I hope that the words “Play ball” echo in the air soon.