February 15, 2011
Happy Valentine's Day everyone-whether or not you know it, you've got a Valentine this year. Maybe it's your spouse or significant other and maybe it's the great game of baseball.
Yesterday, pitchers and catchers for each of the 30 MLB teams began reporting to Florida or Arizona and many of them checked in over the weekend. By this time they're in the midst of workout routines, PFP, throwing drills, they're blocking balls in the dirt, hustling off the mound, and learning about how they should really be gripping that slider they've been working on.
For those of you lucky enough to head to a Spring Training game or two, my best wishes to you. The weather's sure to be fine and the atmosphere around those tiny ballparks is fantastic, mellow, calm, serene... and there's very little competition for baseballs if you're not seeing the Cubs, Dodgers, Angels, Yankees, or Red Sox.
Really, what this date means is that we can all start counting the days until Opening Day. For most of us baseball fans the winter has meant too much time indoors and too little time analyzing stats and talking about who should bat leadoff or whether or not that other fan elbowed you on purpose or not during BP.
For me, the day after the Super Bowl is a significant day because most of the world turns their eyes back toward other sports. Basketball and hockey are still going strong and NASCAR is getting some coverage but, man, it was nice to turn on SportsCenter and hear talk about Albert Pujols' contract.
Most of us are already planning road trips or flights to see yet another ballpark or checking out hours and dates of tours. Well, it's time to get on that, baseball fans, if you haven't done so quite yet. Gonna relace your glove? Buy some new cargo shorts? Finally replace that backpack you've got with a hole in it?
Whatever your preseason plans may be-know that you don't have long to wait before March 31st at 1:05pm EST... heck, baseball's starting in March this year! What's not to be excited about?
Camden Yards is sure to be a popular spot this season-with the added right-handed power on the Orioles in 2011 and the sparse crowds in Baltimore, ballhawks are sure to flock to those BP sessions-and will Anaheim remain the West Coast hotspot for chasin' baseballs or will some up-and-coming Dodger and Padre fans take over? What about NorCal representatives, too? And the MidWest talent certainly has been on the rise so it'll be pretty interesting to see how that group will fare on the leaderboards?
So, pay attention to the offseason moves... who does that guy play for now? What number does he wear? And be sure to bring your camera for the photo scavenger hunt and make sure to take plenty of water and some snacks with you-it's a long season, ballhawks, and it's almost here! Enjoy...
Matt Jackson is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.