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Those Three Magical Little Words

February 14, 2018

I admit I tend to get a little emotional around this time of year. My heart races a little faster. I find myself watching the calendar, counting down the days. It’s really just a day like any other, I suppose. Some people don’t care. Some might even actively avoid it.

Today is the day we finally get to say those three magical little words: Pitcher and catchers.

The Cubs reported yesterday, but for most of Major League Baseball, today is the day that pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. On February 2nd, the groundhog saw his shadow signifying six more weeks of winter. But, on February 14th, pitchers and catchers report signifying the real start of Spring.

We are still over a month away from Opening Day, of course. Even Spring Training games are a couple weeks away. But, today baseball, like a childhood friend who has been away on a months long trip, returns.

As big a baseball fan as I am, I’ve never been to a Spring Training game. Utah has two professional baseball teams. The Orem Owls are in the Pioneer League. That’s one step below single-A ball. And the Salt Lake Bees are a AAA team. Both are part of the Anaheim Angels organization. But, to get Major League Baseball, the closest is Denver where the Colorado Rockies play.

Spring ball will be played in Arizona and Florida. My favorite team, the Seattle Mariners will be part of the Arizona Cactus League. Every year, I look longingly South and think, “Maybe next year.” Well, this is the year.

You might wonder why Spring Training games even are a thing. The games literally don’t count for anything. Often managers will ignore the scoreboard as they work on different combinations of players. The Spring Training wins and losses are forgotten in April when the regular season starts.

But, Spring Training represents a new beginning. Every team is a potential World Series champion in February. Every team has the same record. The same chance at greatness. Also, crowds are smaller. A Major League ballpark will hold 50,000 people. A Spring Training game will get a tenth of that. It’s a chance to watch the game up close.

Yes, this is my year. But, I won’t be headed to Arizona to watch Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners. Instead, I have a trip to Florida scheduled for work. It falls right in the middle of Spring Training and happens to be in the same small Florida city as the New York Mets Spring Training facilities are in.

I once drove from Shreveport, LA to Dallas, TX and back, a six hour round trip, to watch a Rangers game. Next month I’m going to be able to catch a 1:00PM game during a long lunch.

So, on this February 14th, enjoy the best Valentine’s gift ever. . .I think I’m in love.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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