This past offseason seemed longer than most. The 2016 season ended with the surreal ride to a Chicago Cubs World Series victory, then left us stranded in a baseball desert. With only the prickly cacti of politics to keep us occupied, we ran with open hearts and arms toward the water of Spring Training. With excitement and glee we are celebrating these early games. Life appears to be as it should be.
Alas, it is but a mirage. Spring Training quenches our eyes with baseball, but it never truly satisfies the thirst. Every spring, fans run toward this mirage on Pitchers and Catchers Day. We proceed to cycle through a predictable range of emotions until we finally reach Opening Day. Consider Lookout Landing your support group as you work through the stages of Spring Training.
Not every fan will go through the stages in the same order, or experience them all. Don’t try to rush through the stages. Your experience is unique. Feel the feelings you feel. We are here to support you.
Stage 1: Excitement
Baseball is back! Pitchers are throwing to catchers! Infielders are taking ground balls! There’s sunshine and hope! Any game is worth watching, even the Yankees. Baseball is back. The fields have never been greener; the sun never more brilliant. Baseball’s beauty is dazzling.
Stage 2: Frustration
Spring Training stats and performances don’t tell us anything useful. That player hitting the cover off the ball? Doesn’t matter. That pitcher with the unreal strikeout to walk ratio? Small sample size. Your team humiliating every opponent they face? Nothing to plan a victory parade around. Extracting meaning from Spring Training statistics is as maddening as calling Comcast when your internet goes out.
Stage 3: Disinterest
The games are dragging on. You still check in to see what’s going on. It’s baseball and any chance to watch or listen is treasured. You just might also be dusting the bookshelves or cleaning out the pantry, keeping only half an eye or ear on the game. There’s still a level of intrigue if the roster battles are ongoing; if they’ve worked themselves out you’re likely to skip this step.
Stage 4: Boredom
You understand what Frank Sinatra meant when he sang about fighting vainly the old ennui. It’s STILL spring training? Seriously? This is sooooo boring. You don’t care anymore. Send the prospects to the minor leagues where they belong. Lock the fringe starters in the ‘pen or AAA. Stop pretending that hot shot rookie who played A-ball last year has a chance to make the big league club this year [Ed. note: Thyago Vieira is CLEARLY exempted from this edict]. Spring’s fresh excitement has been eclipsed.
Stage 5: Agony
REAL baseball is almost here! The games almost count! The stats will become meaningful. All the games will be televised. It could be the beginning of a championship season. There will be flashy rookies to fall in love with, and hard-nosed veterans to admire. Underdogs to cheer for, and dominating teams to abhor. Real baseball is nigh. Make Spring Training end noooooowwwww! You want a game that counts, and you will throw a toddler-esque tantrum if that’s what it takes to get one.
In whichever stage you may find yourself, rest assured that Spring Training will eventually end and the season will finally begin. We will get there together, one exhibition game at a time.