With all apologies to my wife, this year, I want to know just one thing. Spring Training, won't you be my Valentine?
I'm guessing my wife would be pretty pissed if I got her this shirt for Valentine's Day.
Waxing poetic about the start of spring training is hardly the most original idea in the book, but I just can't help myself, at least not this year. After such a soul-rending heartbreaking infuriating disappointing (I'm trying to take the high road) off-season, I don't think I've ever looked so forward to the start of training camp and I have the feeling many of you out there share in that sentiment.
I'd like to say I feel this way because this is a year full of promise, hope and potential, but we all know that isn't true. Broken promises? Maybe. False hope? Probably. Potential disaster? I certainly can't rule it out. But definitely none of that warm and fuzzy stuff that Valentine's Day is all about. But you know what? That's the funny thing about spring training, none of that stuff matters right now because spring is a season of rebirth, which is exactly what the Angels need right now.
Though nothing has actually changed between now and a few days ago, it just feels to me like the Halos kind of have a clean slate of sorts. Guys are actually in uniform, on the field and playing baseball now. That alone is something to love, but what pushes it over the top for me is that for once, nobody is talking about what the Angels did and didn't do during the off-season (except Jon Heyman who is still keeping up with his quota of slamming the Angels on Twitter every six hours). What's not to love about that?
Baseball has become so much about business that even we fans find ourselves obsessed about the payroll and general finances of our favorite team. There probably isn't one Angel fan out there right now who doesn't know exactly how much money Vernon Wells has left on his contract. Hell, my wife knows that number and she is the same woman I had to remind 30 different times that Chone Figgins isn't on the team anymore. Isn't that ridiculous? Why should fans care that much about contract figures?
What I fell in love with as a kid was the sport of baseball, America's pasttime. I think I learned how to read a boxscore before I even learned how to actually read. But instead of boxscores, it is probably more important that fans know how to read their team's balance sheet (seriously, have you seen the Angels EBITDA, it is tremendous). This is making me angry just thinking about it, which is exactly why I am so glad that Spring Training is upon us. The Angel payroll limitations and Vernon Wells' albatross contract haven't gotten any better, but I don't care... for now.
All these off-field issues are going to slowly start seeping back up to the surface once the regular season begins, but, for me, Spring Training gets an exemption. That's because Spring Training isn't the return of professional baseball, it is the return of baseball... just BASEBALL. If you've ever attended a Cactus League game or strolled around the Arizona campus of one of the teams, you'd know exactly what I mean by that. Professionalism kind of just takes a vacation down there. Sure, some guys are playing for their jobs, but a lot of the players are just out there having fun and enjoying the game. That is what I love about Spring Training, seeing multi-millionaires clowning around on the practice field, joking in the dugout, smiling during games just like we all did back when we played in high school (only these guys can throw 97 and don't swing and miss at breaking balls by 30 feet, if you don't count Brandon Wood).
So, Spring Training, please, if you don't already have plans tonight, come on over to my place and stay until late-March so I can show you just how much I love you and how much you mean to me. Oh, and wear something sexy.