By Lindsay Cash
For thousands of people around America, Monday was a day full of pink and red balloons and bears, with flowers and vases and chocolate-covered sweet things. Laughter, hugging and excitement hovered around the millions of people experiencing “love”’ But the sweetest sound for many wasn’t a serenade or love song – it was the day Spring Training began.
Valentine’s Day was the first day for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training in either Florida for the Grapefruit League, or Arizona for the Cactus League.
Players, fans and general managers from around the country are all talking, traveling and tweeting to the sweet sound of a pop in the glove. Countless deals, trades and lineup alterations have consumed the lives of general managers. With opening day nearly one month away, it’s officially time for players to get in the swing of things again.
The Rangers are waiting for Michael Young to show, or not to show, at practice in Surprise, Ariz., Saturday. After being tossed around the infield and yet continually providing consistency for the club, Young is fed up, but the Rangers are anxiously hoping to hang on to such a selfless player.
Traveling almost a dozen states eastward to Jupiter, Fla., the St. Louis Cardinals are waiting as well, but in more of a careless manner. By failing to provide an enticing deal to the backbone of their organization, the Cardinals are inching toward a position to lose one of Major League Baseball’s most threatening players. Albert Pujols has reached the final year of his contract with the Cardinals, and becoming a free agent could mean devastation for St. Louis.
Clearwater, Fla., is clear as ever, though, with probability of having the toughest lineup in Major League Baseball training there. Jimmy Rollins, a long time player of the Philadelphia Phillies, calls his team’s rotation “The Five Horsemen.”
Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton are the perfect storm for the most in-depth rotation in the National League. Halladay, Oswalt and Lee waived offers from other organizations dreaming of placing them in their lineup, but don’t worry. The Phillies will be back to visit everyone, but don’t count on them being friendly.
But it would be a mistake to forget about the World Champion San Francisco Giants. Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval are showing up to Spring Training all smiles in Scottsdale, Ari. Brian Wilson can’t stop laughing and joking with everyone, basking in the rendezvous. Manager Bruce Bochy appreciates the excitement of the team, but looks reality right in the face – the Giants have team chemistry to build, pressure on the pitchers and a World Champion title to defend. No team has ever won back-to-back titles since the New York Yankees captured three straight in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
The Yankees are approaching spring training pleased with Mariano Riviera’s feel good return and not so pleased with Joba Chamberlain’s too-feel-good return. All eyes seem to shoot to the Yankee’s rotation upon the retirement of Andy Pettitte. Although, Chamberlain’s heaviness seems to be an issue at his training camp arrival, and the Yankees have his dedication under a microscope and wait to see if he proves to be New York’s fiery relief pitcher, as he has in past years.
Last year’s playoff presence featured the National League’s Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Cinncinati Reds and Philidelphia Phillies, while the American League’s San Francisco Giants, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. But as all 30 clubs approach their designated training spot in the sunniest sports grounds of America, everyone becomes a dreamer. The most miniscule transactions can create the deadliest opponent, and in less than a month, the eyes of the nation will look to America’s favorite pastime to see which teams truly are prepared for the competition.
Lindsay Cash is a junior journalism major from Frisco and a reporter for the Lariat.