Okay, so maybe spring training isn't here quite yet -- we're 10 days away if you're keeping score at home -- but the end of the Super Bowl signals one thing: the unofficial start of baseball season. Players are already showing up in Florida, fans are excited, and the weather might actually be getting war- wait, never mind.
In my opinion, the best part about spring training is the rampant optimism in the air. Fans of nearly every team in the majors -- sorry, Braves fans -- think their team has a shot at the postseason. Players are in the best shape of their lives. Even Joe Nathan thinks he can still pitch. So much optimism!
It's a good thing that there is so much optimism, because spring training itself actually kind of sucks. Sure, it's incredible if you actually make it to Florida or Arizona to see your favorite team work out or play games, but otherwise it's a month-long tease of subpar baseball played by unidentifiable prospects. Yes, you get to hear the dulcet tones of Dan Dickerson again, but only during your work day if your boss isn't around.
And then some beat writer tweets about having to actually put on a sweater and then you remember it's 20 degrees outside. Get here soon, Opening Day.
One of the nice things about this offseason's moves is that there is an actual bench now, writes Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. I still struggle with the idea that Mike Aviles is a plus in late-game situations, but I'm a big fan of the Jarrod Saltalamacchia signing. Having too many outfielders is also a good thing.
Why 'stick to sports' doesn't always stick
HardballTalk's Craig Calcaterra says it's OK to mix some politics in with your daily helping of sports analysis. Or pop culture. Or anything, really. Sports are part of our lives, just like those other things, and it's natural for them to blend together.
Today in rumors!
The White Sox have reportedly kicked the tires on a deal for Andre Ethier, though nothing materialized after that news broke early last week. They also may be in on Dexter Fowler, the top free agent still on the market (I'm not sure why Burke Badenhop is ahead of Yovani Gallardo on that list, but that's just me). They may also be after Tampa Bay's Jake Odorizzi, but color me shocked if they have the prospects to pull that one off.
The Tigers haven't been mentioned in the rumor mill lately, but the Arizona Diamondbacks are reportedly interested in one of my preferred targets, reliever Tyler Clippard. The Astros have also gotten involved, though their bullpen is already quite stacked. It's OK, though. There are still plenty of arms available if the Tigers want one more.