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Pitchers and Catchers

Back in the day, I used to run cross country to get in shape for the baseball season. And I always dreaded the meets - not because I didn't enjoy running, but because I didn't enjoy running competitively. I really couldn't imagine many things worse than forcing my body to run as fast as it can for more than three miles in the blazing San Diego sun without being able to talk to anyone. I wasn't slow, but at the same time I wasn't exactly threatening any world records; in classical terms, if the leaders were allegro, I was adagio, a Samuel Barber to their Antonio Vivaldi. I'd set off and within the first mile something would invariably cramp up and I'd spend the rest of the race pushing myself forward in agonizing pain, wondering aloud why I ever thought this would be a good idea.

Something funny always happened near the end, though - the instant I had the finish line in my sights, I'd catch my second wind and take off sprinting, passing a few stragglers in the final 100 meters with the additional bonus of totally destroying their self-confidence. It was the only part of the race I enjoyed, because for those 30 seconds I felt like the fastest runner on the course. In some respects, it made everything worthwhile.

Baseball, for me, is the polar opposite. The offseason starts out pretty exciting with a flurry of activity, but once it slows down it never really picks up again until the start of the season. Spring Training is okay, but I can never get up for meaningless games featuring bad players competing with each other for bench roles and bullpen spots. What I hate even more is how ST brings out the worst in local sportswriters, as if Minor Leaguer A going 5-11 with two homers against other teams' Minor Leaguer A's makes him somehow deserving of roster consideration. Spring Training is glorified practice, and rarely does it teach us anything we didn't already know.

And yet, for some reason tons of people always look forward to the middle of February, when pitchers and catchers report to camp. I still can't figure it out, because, for me, the season has never felt further away. There's no sprint to the finish line here, because I still have to slog through 47 more days of "nobody's job is secure" and "this youngster's really showing me something." 47 days ago, it was New Year's, and we were still basking in the bitter afterglow of the Washburn contract. If anything, pitchers and catchers reporting represents the midpoint of the offseason's dead period, and I fail to understand why that's something to celebrate.

I know that I'm in the minority, here. It's just that the only thing worse than no news is fluff news, and that's exactly the kind of garbage I'll have to deal with for the next month and a half. That, more than anything else, is what this time of year means to me. It's unbearable.

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to camp in Arizona? Whatever. Let me know when they report to Safeco.