First Sign of Spring: Pitchers and Catchers

Some people might mark the arrival of spring by the return of warm weather or by the first bud of a flower or by the sighting of certain birds in the air or by the delivery of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue to their mailboxes.  All of those occurances are certainly heralds of the new season, but for me the sure sign that winter is over (even if the calendar tells us that we still have over a month to go) is the beginning of baseball once again as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

January is over, the harshest winter month that I can remember, and the start of the sport that is best identified with summertime is a welcome (and seemingly long overdue) event. Nature itself seems to be jubilant at the thought of baseball action under way again, as temperatures in New York are being forecast to reach over 60 degrees by Friday.  I might actually be able to close my eyes and imagine that I'm in Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, watching the Yankees prepare for what might be a challenging season.

My dad, the eternal diehard Mets fan, is already itching to put the last few miserable seasons behind him and start anew.  He'll be watching every game he can that's televised from Port St. Lucie, even if they don't mean anything yet. That's the joy of Spring Training, when all teams start fresh with grand hopes of a magical year ahead, their sights set on that October prize.

Let's welcome back our National Pastime and count the days until Opening Day!