Saturday, January 24, 2009

Is it Spring Training Yet?

The winter feels like an eternity without America’s Pastime. Football leaves fans with one day per week to be excited for, as opposed to the six or seven that baseball programs them to expect. Baseball season also allows for a quicker emotional rebound. It takes just twenty-four hours to wash the bitter taste of defeat from their mouths, as each day leaves their team with another chance.

As the Yankees officially moved their offices across the street to the new Yankee Stadium, fans were reminded that it is almost time to dust off their favorite jersey. It is almost time to stop debating about the upcoming season and successes in free agency, and begin to observe the final product first hand.

Valentine’s Day is centered on true and genuine passion, a day to express how much you love what matters most to you. After all, one-third of all the diamonds sold during the year are given out on February 14th.

What better date could have been chosen for the official start of spring training? Pitchers and catchers will report to Tampa on Valentine’s Day, risking the wrath of a woman scorned as a result of leaving their girlfriends and wives behind. While it may not involve chocolate, roses, and Hallmark cards, fans have the opportunity to show how much they truly care…about baseball.

The abrupt ending to the 2008 season left Yankee supporters with a long list of questions and concerns. Will A-Rod ever translate his MVP status to big games in Sept. and Oct.? Will Jorge Posada ever provide stability at the catcher position again? How will frail veterans Matsui and Damon hold up? Has Cano been exposed? Are Jeter’s best days behind him?

The offseason has helped to quiet many of the concerns, but the free agent frenzy has left fans with a few more. Are injuries going to continue to decimate the pitching staff, especially following the AJ Burnett signing? Will all those extra innings ever catch up to CC’s golden arm?

Regardless of these fears, it is important to remember that this is New York. It is a city with a sports foundation built on confidence, arrogance to a degree, and a steadfast sense of entitlement. Every single baseball season begins with a tunnel vision view toward October.

Yankees fans and players can finally begin to prepare for the long haul that is MLB’s regular season. They can look forward to the opening of their new stadium, otherwise referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. October dreams once again have the chance to become a reality.

Valentine’s Day will mean much more to New York this year than simply hugs and kisses. The smiles, pounding hearts, love, and possibly even tears of joy will still all be there. The difference is, for the biggest of Yankees fans, Cupid’s arrow hit us when we were standing outside of the House that Ruth Built.

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