There is nothing more scintillating for me as a baseball fan than when I hear the words, "Pitchers and catchers report for duty today in Florida." That sentence makes the hairs stand up on my arms, and I think back to the countless cool spring days that I played ball myself, with the dream of being like my heroes Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, or Tom Seaver. Any kid whoever pounded a glove on the cool wet grass of a field on a spring day knows the feeling, and that is why spring training makes us all young again and filled with hope.
Of course, every team - whether it is the major league franchise or the pee-wee league variety - has the fever that spring brings. No one has any wins or losses that count; everyone's batting average or ERA is zero, and there is the feeling that this year we will go all the way. The eternal hope of spring training manifests itself in these cool bright days, and the only way you become boys of summer is by first being the ones of spring.
Reality will set in eventually for all of us as the long schedule that drags its feet through March produces some malaise even among the most ardent fans. We want opening day to come quickly, but as injuries happen and old knees creak, the prospects begin to look less rosy and some of us may even wish to put off that first pitch of the season if we could somehow.
As a New York Mets fan, I don't have that much to be happy happy about this spring. Other teams have signed free agents of note and are ready to compete, but for the Mets fans we are stuck with mediocrity and the prospect of a quiet spring that will blossom into what seems like it will be another one of those wait until next year scenarios.