February 18, 2016


THE BEAUTY OF SPRING TRAINING (Will Leitch, 2/17/16, Sports on Earth)

The 2016 regular season ends on Oct. 2, two days earlier than last season. If the postseason schedule is set up roughly like it was last year, the Division Series should be done by Oct. 12, with the League Championship Series around Oct. 21-22, letting the World Series begin around Oct. 25. If it goes seven games -- which has happened only twice in the past 13 years, sad face -- that means it is possible the next day in which there will be no photos of men stretching in the grass, and throwing baseballs to each other, and taking grounders, will be in exactly 260 days. That will be precisely six days before the presidential election on Nov. 8, so if you are having trouble looking at politics these days (for the same reason people have trouble looking at the sun, as in "if you do not stop, you will eventually go blind and/or burst into flames"), you are just about to have yourself an awfully handy distraction. Because it's here.

From now on, it is baseball. Every day brings baseball. It all starts filing in now. The players talking about their offseason regimen. The guys in The Best Shape Of Their Lives. The new managers talking about a "different attitude around here." The reporters tweeting snapshots of players shagging flies from 100 feet away. The hundreds of eager fans, with their hands out with items to be signed, baseballs or pennants, or maybe their baby's bald head.

It's the time to believe anything can happen, because it can. Last spring, the Royals were thought to be a one-year fluke. The Mets were a punchline. Turns out: They faced each other in the World Series. Right now, the only teams in baseball no one thinks have even a tiny chance of making the playoffs are the Phillies, Braves and Reds. And even with them, who knows? Stranger things have happened. Stranger things happen every year. Right now, the sun is shining in Florida and in Arizona, and no matter how cold it is where you are, it is beautiful and perfect and eternal there.

By July, some of you will be so disgusted by your team that the mere mention of their names will cause you to grimace and scowl. By September, you might be ready to move on to football, or just concentrating on your fantasy baseball team's finishing kick. But not right now. Right now, the world spreads out forever before us. This is the year for the Cubs! Or the Rangers! Or the Astros! Or the Nationals! Or the Mets! Or the Dodgers! Any of them!

Posted by at February 18, 2016 12:56 PM