Spring Training Can’t Come Soon Enough

By Matt Musico

From all of us here at Rising Apple, Happy New Year to you and your loved ones! Now that 2013 is upon us, we can officially close the book on 2012 and move forward. One of the best things about the start of a new year is a clean slate, and the opportunity to begin a new chapter in our lives. The same holds true for each Major League Baseball team, as their version of New Year’s Day happens when pitchers and catchers report for their first day of Spring Training, which just so happens to be in 42 days for the Mets.

A few years ago, my mother gave me a small cartoon from the newspaper that I’ve held onto because it describes my feelings perfectly when it comes to the sport I love. It’s a simple picture that features two people facing one another, with one sentence that reads:

"“Every year, just when I start to think life is totally meaningless, baseball starts again.”"

I feel this way every year! Not exactly to this extreme, but you get my drift. For me, it’s different stages of sadness each winter; if the Mets don’t make the playoffs (which has become all too often these days), it pains me when the final out of the regular season is recorded and the Amazins go into hibernation, but at least we still have the postseason to look forward to.

When one destined team is still standing at the end of October and able to hoist the World Series trophy, I have mixed emotions. A part of me would kill to feel what all those players are feeling at that moment, another part wishes I was watching the Mets celebrate, and the last part of me is upset that there is no more baseball to watch until that next spring.

I’m a fan of football and basketball as well, but not like baseball. I love being able to come home from work every day and being assured there is something good on TV that night because the Mets have a ballgame to play, and when there’s not, it sucks. Rogers Hornsby is one of my favorite all-time ballplayers, and he provided some quality quotes during his lifetime. My favorite one is when someone asked him what he did during the off-season:

"“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”"

Man, he hit that on the head. For us baseball fanatics, there is no replacement to baseball in the winter time, there is just a major void that won’t be filled until our favorite sport makes it’s triumphant return. When pitchers and catchers report to camp in Port St. Lucie next month, it’s another fresh start; the page is turned to the next chapter in our baseball lives as we get ready to watch what our beloved team has in store for us in 2013. Some may not be excited because of the current roster, but for me, I like to take the optimistic approach because baseball is such an unpredictable game.

I’m excited for 2013 because anything can happen. Who thought last February that the Oakland Athletics would win the AL West, or the Baltimore Orioles would make the playoffs? Just about no one. Pitchers and catchers reporting is a symbol of hope for a better season than the one prior. This is the only time of the year where the Mets have just as good of a chance of winning the World Series as the Angels do because everyone’s record is back to 0-0.

Last February, I wasn’t expecting R.A. Dickey to win 20 games and the NL Cy Young award, and I definitely wasn’t expecting Johan Santana to defy all odds and throw a no-hitter in the Orange and Blue. Although the second half of the season was real tough to watch, it was gratifying to watch Terry Collins and company exceed expectations by going 46-40 in the first half. We just never know what’s going to happen, and that’s why I can’t wait to hear two of my favorite words in the English language: “Play Ball.”