2/19/2006- Cleveland Indians, Winter Haven, Florida
Pitchers and catchers reported for spring training this past weekend, marking the start of the most wonderful time of the year. There is nothing like spring training. There is such a different feel to it than the regular season, and for those of us who grew up watching baseball in a dome watching outdoor baseball is still a special treat. It is so laid back and personal. You can sit behind a chain link fence 10 feet away from the players practicing drills. If they are bored they might just walk up and start a conversation with you. Division rivals and the hated Yankees aren't quite so bad when the games don't count and they're all just a bunch of boys goofing off. If you want anyone's autograph, spring training is the time to get it. Same goes with pictures. And if you're a relatively attractive twenty-something, pictures and signings are even easier.
If you are a relatively attractive twenty-something who has a thing for players in baseball pants, spring training is an especially wonderful time of year.
Dean loves spring training even more than I do because he is a baseball fiend and being so close to the players and getting ALL his baseball cards autographed is a dream come true. Often I am enlisted to get autographs for him because, let's face it, I am a little better at getting the players' attention. In exchange for this service, Dean takes my picture with my favorite players, saying "May I please get a picture of you with my sister?" Dean is so good to me.
This a picture I got taken with Shannon Stewart last year.
I didn't take any pictures yesterday in Winter Haven because I'm not a big Indians fan. I just sat back in the grass reacquainting myself with the familiar sound of a ball hitting the catcher's mitt and soaking up the sun. I got a couple autographs for Deano who bought me lunch afterwards. I'll also let you in on a little secret. Dean has no idea just how much I love spring training. I sit there watching the players run around in their pants, once in awhile exchange winks with them, taking in the sun and stimulating my other senses with the sights, sounds and smells of baseball. When we are ready to go Dean tells me what a great girlfriend I am, going to training practices and games with him. Waiting patiently while he gawks at his favorite players and gets autographs with the other fans. I'm such a great girlfriend to help him with the autographs even though I get my picture taken in exchange. Then he says, "I promise, when spring training is over we'll have a weekend or two where we do what you wanna do." I cash it in with a couple of movies I want to see, dinners at my favorite restaurants when really, spring training is what a wanna do.