You know it, I know it, we all know it. Pitchers have reported to 525 NW Peacock Blvd. in beautiful Port St. Lucie, Fla. People equipped to catch them are there to meet them. Also in attendance: hopes, dreams, a sense of renewal and blessed repetition.
Every February I grow weary of Spring Training. It used to be March, but the cycle speeds up these days. Pitchers & Catchers (the process, not the individuals) expends my goodwill not long after the sports cars and SUVs find their specially marked parking spaces. In the world in which we as fans have constructed for ourselves, it seems these fellows and their position-playing teammates are never really gone. They breeze through the same social media as the rest of us, except we pay attention to their comings, goings, doings and quotings. Our representatives among the unsocial media — what we used to call the working press — are dutifully taking it all down and spewing it back for our consumption. And we consume, because it’s there. We could pay less attention, but we don’t. Of course we don’t. We are conditioned to gobble up every iota of offseason detail to combat our natural winter state of deprivation.
We’d miss baseball more if baseball fully went away. It rarely does. It’s on our minds. It’s on our feeds. It’s just not on TV and radio at 7:10 basically every night, which is the real problem and one that won’t be fixed because there’s stretching and quoting and documenting to the extreme. The Eagles hadn’t put the Patriots away one second the Sunday night before last when it was willfully declared that hurrah, baseball season had begun. Unless somebody had scheduled a midnight first pitch in Flushing, it hadn’t. Same for the impact of Pitchers & Catchers, let alone infielders and outfielders. Same for the first intrasquad game, split squad game, exhibition game, minor league game on the back fields where somebody’s sent to get his work in and every other euphemism for getting ready. March 29 remains the target. March 29 is where we need to arrive.
The arrival is still up ahead. The road rolls on. All we did today was get on the Florida Turnpike. Ah, but at least we’re getting somewhere.
No doubt you are already doing so, but think good thoughts for Buddy Harrelson, whose battle with Alzheimer’s is sadly in progress. Usually I hesitate before invoking the word “battle” when it’s applied to someone coping with an illness, because illness is a bully who doesn’t fight fair. Yet those of us whose Mets fandom was built on the indefatigable nature of Buddy Harrelson can’t escape the sense that it ain’t over until it’s over. Buddy doesn’t give in so easily. We won’t, either.