Every year, fans of one team end the year with a celebration and a ticker-tape parade, while fans of the 29 other teams have already begun to think about next year.
For most baseball fans, we’re entering what is quite possibly the most boring and uneventful time of the year: the off season. Another season has passed, from chilly Spring Training mornings on into the dog days of summer, right through those crisp October evenings, another season has come and gone, recorded and finalized in baseball’s ever-important, always evolving record books.
4,860 regular season baseball games are played each season. Even before those began, each team played dozens of Spring Training games. And after those 4,860 regular season games are finished, eight lucky teams who earned playoff berths get the chance to compete for a World Series title. Even with all of those games, though, we’re still left wanting more.
Rogers Hornsby may have said it best when he said, “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” Hornsby definitely summed up the feelings of many baseball fans with his famous quote.
The off season can be exciting, sure. Trying to predict where each free agent goes can be fun. Guessing who’s interested in making a trade can entertain you for a while. Forecasting where each team will finish the season as the rosters take shape is a good time, at least for a little bit. But eventually, we want, to see nine men take their positions on the field again, to see one man step to the plate. To see the rosin bag hit the ground, almost smelling the pine tar and fresh leather. Hearing the crack of the bat and the sounds of the seventh-inning stretch, things that remind us that spring is here, and that can only mean one thing: baseball season is here.
Until we experience all of those things again, however, we’re all bound to have a few days like Mr. Hornsby, staring out the window and waiting, waiting for spring to come and bring baseball back to life with it. Sure, we’re bound to have some big surprises in free agency and in the trade market this year. There will be exciting moves that will have us all talking and thinking about them for days. Fans of certain teams will suddenly have new hope for the 2011 baseball season.
As exciting as the off season can get, however, nothing can compare to actually seeing them play the game. Watching those meaningless Spring Training games, those 4,860 regular season games, and those exciting fall nights where one team will eventually become champions of the world — that’s why we’re fans. And that’s why we already can’t wait, why we’re already eagerly anticipating the middle of February when pitchers and catchers report, and the beginning of April and the thrill of Opening Day, the rough stretches during the long, hot summer, and the always thrilling playoffs.
And then we’ll be back in the same boat we’re in now, dreaming of the next season, just days after the previous one has finished.