I must make a confession.
I love this game more than life itself. I’ve watched baseball since the tender age of 6 during Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire’s epic home run race of 1998.
I have been to nearly 20 major league stadiums and quite a few minor league parks as well. I spent seven months working for a Class-A ballclub in a town named Lynchburg, Virginia. I saw every pitch of every home game with the exception of one weekend in May thanks to a concussion I suffered while helping the rest of the office pull the tarp during the last of the five rainiest days I have ever witnessed in my life.
If I could calculate the amount of time I have spent watching baseball on TV, I’m almost 99.9% certain that the figure would be about 1 million hours over the span of 19 years (I couldn’t watch baseball as a baby…I don’t think).
Acknowledging how much I adore the game of baseball, I have one terrifying, earth-shattering confession to make.
I hate Spring Training.
Now before you make any conclusions about my right to be a proper baseball fan, know that I indeed have seen Spring Training once in my life in 2015. That year was particularly amazing due to the ridiculous performance put on by the future Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant. He hit the highest home run I have ever seen in my 24 years of life.
I stood maybe a few feet away from Jorge Soler and Dexter Fowler, two towering outfielders that made me look and feel like an ant staring up at a pair of skyscrapers.
That spring in 2015 is easily one of my favorite vacations of all time.
But that being said, I still hate Spring Training.
It’s nice to see the first at-bats of the spring when the players are back taking their first competitive cuts. I smile each and every time I see the start of the games.
But by the time the 3rd inning rolls around, I’m likely passed out on my couch dreaming of champagne showers and parades down Michigan Avenue before being startled awake by the frenzied barking of my wannabe watchdog Collie-mixed-with-something-that-barks Jasmine.
It’s not that I don’t respect the process of crafting the new rosters, evaluating the minor leaguers and stacking them up against the field of competition around the league. I just don’t have any patience for it.
When spring rolls around, it’s equally the best and worst feeling in the world. On the one hand, you get to see the sun along with the return of mild to not subzero temperatures. But on the other hand, baseball is still one month away and Passover is coming up. Ugh.
Sure okay, fill out your brackets, fine. Make your office pools and your various Facebook posts and tweets about your bracket being dismantled by the likes of eight-seed Cuyahoga State knocking out your Final Four teams Kansas, Drake, Nicki and Wiz Khalifa. Blah blah blah, rinse, lather, repeat.
It’s all fine and good having other sports to watch and believe me, I love filling out brackets as much as the next guy.
But for a baseball junkie like myself, there’s nothing to preoccupy my time. Not counting Netflix or Xbox, of course. But again, not much to care about when the baseball isn’t being competitively carried out.
Luckily there was some reprieve this year thanks to the World Baseball Classic. Watching the best players from around the globe battling for the pride of their home countries is always cool to watch.
It still isn’t baseball, though. It’s not the Cubs against those dastardly red birds from Hell. There’s no Schwarbombs or Bryant blasts or Rizzo tarp gymnastics. There are no walk-off grand slams, no first-pitch-of-his-career dingers, no no-no’s, no on-field mobs, no pennants or World Series droughts ending.
It’s all just the warm-up for the long, 162-game soap opera.
It’s necessary, but it’s boring.
Like every other preseason in every other sport, baseball takes the proper time to ease everyone back into the game. To the chagrin of us pesky fans, there is no on-off switch to kickstart the season at full speed.
But thankfully, the end is nigh.
We’re under 10 days away from the beginning of something no human being has witnessed in more than a century: a Chicago Cubs defending-World Series champion season.
In just a few days, the fun really begins.
I’m stoked. I’m anxious. I can’t possibly take anymore!
But alas, I have no way of making the days move quicker. I can distract myself until the time finally arrives. But, like the rest of you, I have to patiently wait.
Then again, we Cubs fans know a thing or two about patience, don’t we?