Set aside for a moment that pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training camp is about as uneventful an event as you could ask for. Many have been in town for weeks, and photos of players working out on the fields around Joker Marchant Stadium have been posted across social media for days. They're there. Great. Now what? Intellectually we know this: that it's exciting for only a few fleeting moments, that we'll soon be sick of workouts and waiting for spring training games; that we'll soon be sick of spring training games and waiting for the regular season. Intellectually we know this, yet we declare this day a holiday.
Pitchers and catchers reporting isn't so much an event, or even a day on the calendar, as it is a metaphor: It is the day that winter's back begins to break; a promise that day follows night. Baseball's unique position on the calendar lends itself to these analogies. It is the only sport that begins as winter ends. A rebirth. A new year, if the calendar followed a more natural cycle of birth, life and death. As spring training progresses, the days get longer and warmer, the snow melts in the north and the early bulbs push through the earth and the grass returns. Buds appear and the trees leaf out. We re-awaken when baseball returns. It's there for us all summer, a constant companion to be watched and listened to and enjoyed. Stories develop to be told. This player is having his best season ever. That team should never have been expected to compete, yet it is. When fall arrives, the days shorter, the first frosts of winter returning, we watch as teams are culled from the pack. At the end of the World Series, one team celebrates, and 29 others despair: winter is back, our friend is to be mourned, then celebrated, then buried. We are forced to face the bleakest time of the year alone with only a promise to keep our flame burning.
We've done it, friends. We've made it. We've staked our hearts and trust to the words "pitchers and catchers report" and they have arrived. Baseball is back.
Happy New Year to all.