Pitchers and catchers are starting to report.
Seven simple words that to many mean more about the coming of spring than a silly fat rodent in Western Pennsylvania.
In simple English, it translates into: Spring isn’t here, but it’s right around the corner.
It means we all can hope a little because spring signifies a fresh start.
In baseball, it means we all can start over. Every team is 0-0. Every big league team — even the Orioles, Brewers, Royals and Pirates (yes, even the Pirates) — have a chance.
Realistically, few teams have a shot at consistently competing with the big boys from New York, Boston and LA, but in spring training, hope and change become more than just words from a campaign promise.
I’ve been an Orioles fan since the days of Brooks, Boog and Palmer. I cried when Brooks retired and when the Birds lost to the Pirates in ’79. (Come on, I was 12, alright!)
Like other Orioles fans, I’ve been crying the blues since Cal Ripken retired and Rafael Palmeiro had a positive steroids test.
Will this year be any different? The team seems to have addressed some of its glaring issues from last year and has signed some guys who could produce some serious runs in the hitter’s park that is Camden Yards.
I don’t know, but I do have hope that things will be better than last year.
Lately, there have been some signs of hope in the world.
The warm weather coming this week is exciting, and I’m sure it will prompt many to get outside and just do something.
At the very least, the 60s that are predicted for Thursday through Saturday should remind us that spring is truly on its way. Heck, March is less than two weeks away and that’s a great sign of spring’s proximity.
I always feel a little better about the world and my place in it during spring. I’m outside more, I’m officiating soccer, I’m walking on the trails at Renfrew Park in Waynesboro, Pa., I’m taking walks with family and the dog. (Yes, I’m still wagging more than barking, according to my count. I’m trying really hard to stick to my pledge in a December column of being a better human. Sources in Waynesboro, Martinsburg and the main office might beg to differ!)
It’s also a good time to clean out the garage, the basement and yourself. In the past, I’ve used spring as a chance to look back on what happened over the last several months and get a new grip on the things that matter most.
This fall and winter seemed to be especially challenging on a number of fronts for me, and for many people close to me. We’re all in the same boat. As we get older, life gets harder and throws you different curve balls. Financial strains, loss of a loved one, layoffs, a job that crushes your soul, marital disfunction: You know where I’m going with this.
What do you do when your computer gets locked up? Say it with me: “Reboot.”
That’s what I’m looking forward to this spring: Shaking the dust of the past off my boots and hitting restart.
Spring is a good time to do that. Now, don’t go and do anything crazy. You still need that soul-sucking job to pay the light bill and keep the landlord off your back, but take a class, join a gym, read a new magazine, teach yourself how to play guitar, cook some different and unusual meals for your family, take a day trip with your main squeeze. Just try something different. In case you think I’m blowing smoke, I’m doing four of those things I just listed.
I know spring is still officially 32 days, 14 hours and 27 minutes away and my family in Wisconsin and friends in Upstate New York will think my brain is frozen when they read this online. (Insert shameless plug for our website at www.herald-mail.com.)
Spring or even the hint of it makes me feel better about the shape of things, even if it’s just in my little slice of the world. And if I try hard enough, I can almost smell Boog’s Barbecue and see the smoke rising above Eutaw Street.
Try it, you might like it.
Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail and writes occasional columns. Reach him at email@example.com or by phone at 800-626-6397, ext. 7281. You also can follow him or The Herald-Mail on Twitter at @HMinPA or @HMinWV. Non-Twitter users can see posts at www.twitter.com/HMinPA, or www.twitter.com/HMinWV.