Mar 11, 2011; Sarasota, Florida, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds (12) throws over to first base in the top of the third inning during a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Ed Smith Stadium. The Phillies defeated the Orioles 13 - 6. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

The Eternal Hope of Spring

A year ago, I wrote in my blog, “Will I give up on the Orioles if they lay another 70 wins egg? Honestly, probably not. Nope, I’ll likely be here next February waiting for the weather to change, the pitchers and catchers to report, and writing about how this year is REALLY going to be the breakout season! Call it a disease! Call it the baseball version of the movie Groundhog Day! Hope springs eternal each Spring.”

And yes it does, even after a 69-win egg. Here I am a year later, just so excited to see Spring Training begin.

After the Baltimore Colts moved out of town (since I was at that time a graduate school student in Dallas who got to know some of the Cowboys players) it was inevitable that I would become a fan of the Pokes. My five boys have all come along and more than mildly picked up the mantle of cheering for them. They are passionate about Dallas football. Hey, I do like to see them win, but honestly, an Orioles loss in the preseason is more grievous to me than a Cowboys playoff loss – not that they even get there much anymore.

My boys cannot understand this! How could I be such a fan of a team that has had 14 consecutive losing seasons?

Though many would disagree (especially in Baltimore right now), football as a sport just does not measure up to baseball (imho). I understand that there is a lot of strategy to the gridiron game, but really, baseball is the thinking man’s game. If you are a real fan of the American pastime, you know it is true. You also know that anyone who disagrees likely does so because they do not really comprehend all the finer points of the game. They are likely just looking at the pitcher and the batter. These critics almost surely fail to analyze how the defense is shading the player, or how the catcher is setting up the batter inside/outside, etc. They are not looking two and three batters down the lineup or checking the bullpen for movement.

But beyond a simple love of the sport, baseball also signals the soon end of winter and its awful cold. As a child, I remember the first warmer days of spring and taking my baseball glove to school as the revival of hope that, yes, I was no longer locked up in a house! If you think about it, any weather you cannot play baseball in is bad weather! (Although, truthfully, some of the coldest days of my life have been on a baseball field early in the season. I remember pitching in a college game in northern Pennsylvania and being unable to see my right fielder – since he was completely engulfed in a snow squall!)

There is so much more to enjoy about the game and following a particular team than merely the wins and losses. Even during a lousy season, there are individual players who are a delight to watch. As well, I’ve always especially enjoyed seeing new young players arrive on the scene and grow their skills game by game.

Yes, Spring is a season of hope and new life. Everyone begins with a record of 0-0 and all things seem possible. And Orioles hopes are new yet again, though more muted than the previous trip around the sun. A strong final third of the 2010 season gave hope a year ago. The current memory is merely a decent September and the great final series to reflect back upon. The new signings don’t have the same luster – though failures to produce will be less blatantly obvious than the Guerrero / Lee debacle.

I certainly don’t have to have an AL East title this year to be satisfied with the season (though it would be nice), but I think my hopes will take another severe thrashing if there is not marked improvement.

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