Winter baseball media is starting to take a toll. A blizzard of off-season topics assail until you simply want to curl up and shut out the unpleasantness outside.
Wave after wave of off-field baseball stories are enough to give a man a baseball version of cabin fever.
Here are the stories that have dominated baseball in the last month:
Hall of Fame voting. This is beyond "Hum...I wonder who will get voted in." This is pundit warfare. Each faction bombarding each other with arguments about statistics, claims of PED use, and plain old ad hominem attacks. Maybe baseball writers and tweeters secretly like each other, but from the casual observer it doesn't look like they are having much fun.
Free agent signings. I do mostly enjoy following the hot stove. Players move around. Some teams get better, some teams get worse (all on paper, of course). The worst part of the hot stove is the big free agent signings. These signings stop being about baseball and start being about money. And when we talk about money we get into greed and market inefficiency and the health of Major League Baseball itself. The arguments for and against big money contracts run parallel to the warfare about Hall of Fame voting. It's something to talk about in the winter, but it's still not a lot of fun.
New commissioner. I doubt the new commish will be a big change from Bud, but it seemed appropriate to have some fun at Rob Manfred's expense. A new man at the top gives us reason to re-imagine the game. Sure, the game has flaws but dwelling on these flaws and assigning blame for certain shortcomings isn't exactly the way to build up warm fuzzies in your soul. Telling everyone that the game is too slow reminds people that game may be too slow.
We need real baseball and soon.
It gives the promise of spring and the hope of shedding the combative storylines we have endured.
Here are 10 things (in no particular order) I am eager to see:
- I'm longing to see that long, conjoined mound – baseball's version of the urinal trough – with six or seven pitchers throwing batting practice fastballs to catchers no one has ever heard of.
- I'm longing for the first Yoenis Cespedes outfield assist. My jaw has dropped watching the amazing GIFs, now I want to see him do it in the Olde English D.
- I'm longing for Rajai Davis to do some crazy, random base stealing. Go on Rajai, take third when the catcher throws a lollypop back to the pitcher. I love that stuff.
- I'm longing to see Luke Putkonen called up and the disdain on his face when he receives the good news.
- I'm longing for that July stretch where Cabrera pounds four home runs in one series.
- I'm longing to figure out who is carrying the pink backpack to the bullpen just so I can be the only one in my section who knows who the new reliever is.
- I'm longing for that first yelling match with an opponent. Maybe a pitch comes too tight or someone slides into second a little too hard and Ian Kinsler loses his mind. Baseball anger is the best anger because it's not real. It's just dudes playing with a ball.
- I'm longing for an amazing Anthony Gose diving catch. Of course this will devolve into endless comparisons with Austin Jackson's defense, but at least we will have a great catch to talk about!
- I'm longing for a game played in rain. I don't like rain delays, but I love to watch baseball being played in the rain. I'm sick, I know. There is the tension of "Will they call it? They have to call it now. Is the rain pooling? Is it as bad as it looks?" Plus, dudes sticking a bat between their legs like a hobby horse then slowly extracting it from their crotch makes for good TV.
- I'm longing for that tingle of excitement when Price or Verlander throws three or four innings of no-hit ball. Sure, there probably won't be a no hitter, but the possibility exists!
No, the winter is not past. The rain is not over and gone.
But I plead rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away (because I certainly can't take much more off-season).