Four Sweet Words

They may be my favorite four words in the English language when placed together in a sentence. I think of them often at this time of year, when it’s cold, rainy and the days are still a little too short. I think of them especially when the Super Bowl ends.

The words? “Pitchers and catchers report”.

They’ll do that in some major league camps just one week from Monday. Baseball season is nearly underway. I love football, especially college football. I can watch football games steadily from September through New Years Day. I’m less interested in pro-football. Although I’ll watch tomorrow’s Super Bowl, the Big Game only reminds me of how soon before baseball begins.

Pitchers and catchers report. A beautiful sentence that represents the turning from cold winter days to long warm spring and summer nights.

Beginning next week I’ll start looking at the new rosters. Which players have new teams. Which pitchers are playing in stadiums with deeper fences. Which hitters are now playing for Colorado. Which power hitters have lost their setup men in the lineup and which ones will bat left-handed in a park with a short porch in left field. Who’s going to bat in front of Sammy Sosa in Baltimore. Which pitchers threw too many innings last season and who’s arm may be tired or worn out?

I love baseball. Unlike football I can watch any baseball game between any two teams on any night or day of the year. I can watch college baseball, high school baseball and even little league baseball and still appreciate the game. I love wearing the caps. I love staying up past midnight to watch the last out of a west coast game. Before satellite I’d find a game on the radio and listen as the announcer painted the picture with more description than if I was watching the game in person.

I spend more time reading the sports page during baseball season than any other time of year. I can pour over boxscores like a broker pours over a Wall Street ticker. Who’s on a hitting streak? Who earned a save or a hold or committed an error that allowed a run to score?

In person I love the sound of the game. The smells of a freshly cut outfield mixed with peanuts, popcorn and beer. Cotton candy tastes better at a ballpark along with hotdogs and, in Memphis, barbecue nachos.

Pitchers and catchers report in 9 days. I wish I could report too.

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