Last week, the weather got warm for the first time since November. Even though it was still only January, it felt like it was the beginning of March. Rain, not snow or ice for once, was falling from the sky, melting the snow away for good. I didn’t need a hat or a pair of gloves for the first time since Thanksgiving. It was the first of only three "just really nice" days this month.
The coldness of winter melting away outside made me think of a re-warmth inside. The peaceful sounds of baseballs flying in March’s warm, Florida air is the best vision of spring that I can think of. I have been a die-hard baseball fan for most of my life and Spring Training in March is the one time I look forward to all year. The new hope for the new season will be looking upon me as I breathe the fresh, New Jersey air for the first time since the October playoffs. It’s been nearly six months since most of the teams’ hope from last season died out, including that of my favorite team, the New York Mets.
I could just hear the warm, but rusty sounds of the announcers’ voices coming over the radio. "Welcome to another season of New York Mets Baseball," one of them would say. There would be a calmness in their voices as they were getting ready for another year of work. You could feel the light wind blowing from the ocean through the trees and keeping the air at a comfortable 75 degrees.
In the first game I’ll watch on TV, I’ll see the green Florida grass with bright palm trees, and it will bring to mind the peaceful setting of what’s ahead for the coming months: green grass, green leaves on the trees, and kids playing baseball on the sandlot every afternoon after school. Though Florida is warm all year round, there’s no better time in Florida than Spring Training every March when the warmness is felt around the country, thanks to the voices that call the games to cold places like Boston, Minnesota, and Seattle.
Baseball isn’t just about playing in the peaceful settings in March. March is the time when Baseball is at its best. When the teams aren’t really competing against each other for standings in a league, but against themselves to become the best they can be, that’s the best type of baseball there is. This is when everybody really works hard but seems relaxed. You can see Major League superstars working with twenty year old rookie outfielders who are playing their best trying to field their way on the team. That’s what Baseball, as well as all sports, is all about.
These are the best days of the year because everyone in training camp is working: the players, the announcers, and the front office people. The players are trying to show off to their coaches. The announcers are bringing the warm, Florida air to much colder places like New York through their voices as all the snow there starts to melt and the air starts to get warmer. The front office people are trying to make the right trades to make this team of players and this season for the fans the best in team history.
When the regular season begins in early April, there is not much for them to do. Everyone who made the team is on the team and everyone who didn’t is playing in the minors. The announcers are calling games mostly in Northern cities where it is not as warm as Florida, so there is nothing good for them to show in the way they talk. The front office has to wait and see what the changes they made will look like.
But these days of March are care-free because there is no pressure on the players. These games don’t count; they are just warm ups. Most of the players, coaches, and front office people are only in Florida for that one month each year and they try to savor every minute of it. I say, "Enjoy the best time of year while you can." I know what it’s like.
March is not just about who’s out there. You have a $2 million bench warmer, and a rookie catcher who’s only making $500 thousand a year, but they aren’t important. They won’t be with the team forever. You put your heart into a whole team, whether if it’s full of washed up "has-been’s" and talentless "never-will-be’s," or if it’s a team made up of the best baseball players of all time. It could be the World Champion Atlanta Braves playing the 1995 Replacement New York Mets. The enjoyment is in what they do there. They play baseball and supposedly have fun doing it.
Last year was the first time I had a vacation in March, and I went to go see what the peaceful settings I had so commonly witnessed on TV and heard about on radio looked like. I had to see for myself that Florida in March is just as soothing as the announcers’ voices imply that it is. When I was there, the Baseball players were on strike and it was the only time that you could ever see replacement players playing for the fans. I saw the two games I planned to see anyway because the game is not about who’s there on the field, but what they do. It’s March, the best time of year, it’s Baseball, during the best time of year, and players playing their hardest, which is the best mix.
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