Now that another Manning (I’m a Giant fan) has shown his propensity for ABC (Ability to Be Confused) it is happily time to move on to pitchers and catchers and to the joys and false hopes of Spring Training or the Grapefruit vs. Cactus League. Not unlike the first sprouts of snow drops coming through my temporarily thawed wet garden, Spring Training comes into our newspapers, internet sites and televisions like the warm breath of a lost spring day in early February. We know it can’t last. We know it is illusory, a time traveler, Marquez’ cake of ice wrapped and hiked into the Tropics. We know that our struggles with cold, snow and ice scrapers must continue another six to eight weeks (thanks Punxsatawney Phil!), but what the hell, we’ll take the delusion over reality any day.
Spring Training is like that…The pop of the ball into mitts, the soft murmur of the crowds, the names of Florida cities; Fort Meyers, St. Pete, Kissimmee, Jupiter, Dunedin, the ‘kid’ with the 100 mph fast ball and curve that drops like a ball off a table, the next Mickey or Willy or Derek or Trout. Pitchers and Catchers…it is the ultimate Utopia…everyone is equal, no wins, no losses, the temperature is always 70, the eternal present.
I know that Spring Training is now big business with stadiums packed at $45 a pop. I know that the many new ball parks are now part of a ‘complex’ and that the beloved Dodger home at Vero Beach now goes unused, that Phoenix has seduced Florida-located teams to its prickly landscape, but, I don’t care.
As soon as I see a photo of a line of ballplayers throwing the ball around an infield, playing a bit of fungo, lazily lining shots into the outfield, I’m there….rescued from the grunts and groans of helmeted and armored gladiators in a WWI battlefield of military precision, rescued from my winter tense shoulders, rescued from whatever worries that I’m perseverating about and I am delivered to the catholic and egalitarian Church of Baseball where the sun always shines, the breeze kisses seductively and the fluffy clouds promise nothing but daydreams.
- Marc Levitt, Host & Co-Executive Producer