A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jim Bouton

See the thing about spring training is that it's spring training. The games might be played, but they don't count. The only thing that counts is the injuries and the players that feel jilted into writing a tell all confessional about all of his fellow players (and a sequel to it) that begins with a demotion from spring training.
We can have a game where Albert Pujols can jack a fly ball over the fence in Florida. The teams can win all the split squad games that they play. The rookies can excel. The veterans can get their swing together. The fans can collect autograph after autograph. Everyone can go to the beach or Disney when the day is done. We can drink in the sun and the fun and the alcohol of an extended spring break as the national pastime comes back and life is good, but none of it means anything except the fun of the moment because it sure as hell doesn't count in the standings.
And for that, I just can't sit and watch a game. It's like Domincian winter league games. I can't watch them either - even if it's you pitch the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball, and you throw the ball. It's all the same. It's like college baseball. You hear the crack of a fastball on aluminum, and there's just something that isn't the same about it.
It's not quite minor league baseball, which is just a carnival that is disguised as a game, but when the circus is done well, then that's a thing of beauty and at least it trains your kids to watch the game for 9 innings. That's a good thing.
In the end, very little comes out of spring training. Sure, there are first games that are for the record book (Jason Heyward). Then again, there are extended slumps into May (David Ortiz). There are story lines to sell and memories to think about over and over, and as long as we're still in early March, everyone still has a chance. It's like Lou Boudreau said (all future and no past). We can go to the store and start our card collections and think about who we're happy to have and who we'd like to trade... who we should and shouldn't have signed (Jayson Werth)... the players that will be sitting this campaign out (Stephen Strasburg). We can look through our shelves for anyone of a million historical books to read and pine for a past that we never lived through (Curt Flood).
All in all, it adds up to everything that baseball will be on day 1.
Nevertheless, I may be happy it's here today, but I won't be watching it.

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