Quick, what's the first thing you think of when you hear the words "spring training"? I bet it isn't "Charles Dickens." Well, in truth it's not my first thought either, but let's pretend it is. And no, I'm not thinking about Great Expectations, but about a well-known opening line to another Dickens tale: "It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times . . . you stupid monkeys!"
One would like to think Dickens would get a chuckle out of being targeted by The Simpsons. At the same time one gets the feeling that he would have named the show The Knickdadaleeddodumbs. And that frankly that will not fly. Dickension perambulations aside, why is spring training the best of times? Duh, it means baseball will be here soon. One can surf the Internet only so long for books, CDs, plane tickets to Akron, etc. (read: one can only search for porn for so long). Why is spring training the blurst, er, worst of times? Two reasons. 1) We're still six weeks away from the season and 2) until then we will be throttled by such seminal stories as these:
1) So-and-so is in the best shape of his career;
2) Such-and-such team will have new hope because of so-and-so's return;
3) Bliz-blazz and Him-Ham are the greatest rookies since the last greatest rookies;
4) See (1), (2), and (3). Rinse, lather, repeat.
Generally there is nothing wrong with offering up bland generalities, and that synopsis above will cover much of the news in the next six weeks. No doubt the topic of steroids will eat too many trees and cyber-bytes. Positional battles will be examined. New managers will be discussed. Pundits and wags will "joke" that Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson will be investigated not for steroid usage but for evidence they are robots. And so on and so forth.
But what can we really look forward to reading and hearing about in the next six weeks? Not much else, unfortunately. We'll keep hearing how the games mean nothing, yet we'll keep hearing about the games. We'll keep hearing that there's no pressure on Danny Haren, Dan Meyer, and Joe Blanton to replace Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder—nobody can replace them, after all, at least not right away—but we'll keep hearing how much pressure Danny Haren, Dan Meyer, and Joe Blanton are under to replace Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. We'll keep hearing that the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A's can't compete because of their small-market status, but by golly those Twins and A's will blast a sock in that theory and go out there and compete.
I could go on. Instead I'll throw it to the Bauxites: what are you most looking forward to this spring? What do you think is the single most interesting story, both in terms of the Blue Jays and across MLB in general? What is the chemical structure of jello? Does anyone plan to go to Florida or Arizona?