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The Citizen

Pitchers and Catchers – A Love Story

By Alexander Remington, Culture Writer, MPP ‘13

For some people – particularly the florists, hoteliers, restaurateurs, and greeting card writers among us – the date of February 14 is associated with Valentine’s Day, arguably the most egregiously commercialized of all American religious holidays. But for me, it is always associated with the return of the love of my life, because that’s the approximate date every year that baseball’s spring training commences when pitchers and catchers may report to camp.

Valentine’s Day probably shouldn’t be referred to as St. Valentine’s Day, anyway. (Unless you’re quoting the Eurythmics song.) For one thing, following Vatican II, the Catholic Church no longer associates the date with Saint Valentine on the liturgical calendar, as the actual date of his death is unknown. In fact, barely anything is known about him – little has been historically verified about any of the three martyred Valentines mentioned in medieval hagiographies. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the date came to be associated with love and sex for a more pragmatic reason: Northern Europeans traditionally believed that’s when birds start getting it on.

Indeed, baseball’s spring training – like many other things that may occur in the spring – is like nothing so much as a long, intense, drawn-out tease, a month and a half of players going through the motions, getting limber, playing consequenceless games in the warm air of Florida and Arizona. Starved as I’ve been, deprived of baseball for the past four months, I’ll hungrily eye every meaningless article about who is in the “best shape of his life,” inhale every interview, breathing in my beloved, line by line, photo by photo, day by day.

That’s all I can do. The first spring training game won’t be till March 2. The regular season won’t begin until the end of the month. Baseball is a practiced exhibitionist, far too cagey to show it all at once. For the next six weeks, I’ll just have to make do with a little leg.

In the meantime, veterans will be playing their way into shape while hopeful rookies try to play their way onto the first major league team of their lives. Two days ago, Oakland and Mariners players began their voluntary workouts, and in the next two weeks every player on every team will show up for work. The M’s and A’s got an early start because they’ll inaugurate the season all the way across the international date line – they’ll play a two-game series on March 28-29 in Tokyo,  a full week before the first regular season game in the United States on April 4 in Miami. Even after my first taste of the season, I’ll have to take another week of cold showers.

But this year is especially important. Apparently, according to the Mayan calendar, the world will end during the year 2012. Darren Daulton, a former catcher for the Phillies and Marlins, even wrote a book about that, “If They Only Knew.” So if you knew that the world was going to end, and you had just one last year with your paramour, what would you do?

Well, I know exactly what I’d do. But a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.