Check out the guy to the left over there. He’s in a good mood, he’s concentrating, it’s sunny and there may or may not be a palm tree visible behind him. It could also be a light tower. It’s hard to tell.
And why shouldn’t he be in a good mood? It’s practically baseball season. At this point in the career of the player in question (it’s Pedro Martinez, for the record), he had just won the World Series, he was zooming in on his first season as a New York Met, and the horrifying reality of all that would entail hadn’t quite sunk in yet, so for now, life was still pretty great.
Likewise, baseball fans are at their most optimistic in March. The winter is finally behind them, and the thought of sunny skies and green fields and afternoons sitting in the bleachers with a beer and watching nine innings are so close as to be taunting. Everyone, even the most ardent fans of perennial cellar-dwellers can envision wreaking havoc against all odds in June and July, trading for Ervin Santana and making a run in October.
And by all accounts, that should be me at the moment. I enjoy the seasons and I deal with the brunt of the worst of seasons and look forward to the transitions, making mental notes of when the snow line starts to recede in the winter and counting the days where the temperature dips below 80 in the summer. Right now we’re in the winter side of things, and this part of the calendar is usually where 50-degree highs become the norm, I start watching Red Sox games on my lunch breaks and scribbling out theoretical 25-man rosters on the T.
Except that hasn’t happened. This morning I pulled on long john bottoms and a shirt under my pants and a sweater to go along with thick socks and boots as I went into work for roughly the 150th time since this winter began. As someone who has gladly traded in heat for cold as a living reality, this winter has been relentless. As I write this, it’s 16 degrees in Boston. This isn’t a problem in January, but by mid-March I start to get cranky.
Which is lousy and useless. I should be reveling in Xander Bogaerts playing shortstop every day and Grady Sizemore’s surprisingly non-disastrous play in center field. Johan Santana is working on a comeback in Baltimore and all of the Braves are somewhere in a hospital waiting room and …
And I’m whining now. That’s productive.
I grew up in New England, and except for a three-year hiatus in Arizona, I’ve been here the entire time and I can deal with winter, usually. I even enjoy it. I like flannel shirts and sweaters and wool hats and all the other ephemera that accompanies frigid air. This season has been the most relentless stretch of depressing cold I can remember. But it’s not just here; it snowed in Atlanta three times. Alabama was crippled by freezing temperatures at one point. The polar vortex basically consumed the entire midwest for two months. I’d like to imagine I’m not entirely in this alone and that we’re all miserable and wondering when baseball starts.
The answer is: two weeks. In two weeks, the Red Sox will be in Camden Yards to open the season against the Baltimore Orioles. The Cubs will be in Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates, while the Twins will open in Chicago against the White Sox, and so on. And in two weeks, maybe, temperatures will have returned to something north of arctic, and we’ll be mentally prepared for the glorious reality of spring and sun and baseball.
In the meantime, I’m wearing two pairs of socks and typing while a space heater sucks up electricity behind me. But Pedro’s still smiling. He knows what’s coming. Kind of.