Baseball is Back!

Welcome back to the boys of summer. Welcome back hot dogs, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and seventh inning stretches.

Welcome back to the time of year when 6+4+3 does not equal 13, but it equals two outs instead.

Welcome back to the time when painting the corner has nothing to do with a paintbrush, and when framing has nothing to do with pictures. And please welcome back web gems, long balls, and shutouts.

Ladies and gentlemen, baseball is back!

Today is the official start to Spring Training of the 2016 Major League Baseball season.

Five teams’ pitchers and catchers report to their respective Spring Training sites today, 12 more report Thursday, and the remaining teams’ battery mates will report throughout the remainder of the week.

Even though we are still two weeks removed from the first preseason games on March 1, and over six weeks away from the first pitch of the regular season in Pittsburgh when the Pirates take on the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park, it doesn’t matter to baseball fanatics.

For some, including myself, baseball never went away. It just took a little break.

Baseball stayed in the news with another crazy go around of Winter Meeting wheeling and dealings, free agent frenzy, rumors and deals. Large free agent contracts were signed and history was made when three players, starting with Colby Rasmus, became the first to sign their team’s qualifying offer of $15.8 million.

Some players, like the three that accepted their qualifying offer, and others like Chris Davis, Yoenis Cespedes, and Alex Gordon, signed contracts to stay with the team they played for in 2015. Others like Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, and Jason Heyward signed big deals to go elsewhere.

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Orioles fans can’t wait to get back to their seats at the beautiful Camden Yards.  Photo by Ryan Decker

If nothing else, Spring Training is time for the casual fan to catch up on all the new faces in new places.

The first day of Spring Training may not be as exciting as baseball’s true Opening Day on April 3, but it’s exciting in its own right.

It’s like New Year’s Eve and Day for baseball fans. It’s the start of a new chapter.

No matter how good or bad a team looks on paper, everyone goes into the first day of the regular season tied for first place.

Hope is in the air.

For baseball spectators it’s not Punxsutawney Phil that tells of the start of spring, but pitchers and catchers do. It’s not a red heart that is the sign of love, instead is circular white ball with red stitches and the commissioner’s logo on it.

There’s no bow and arrow, but bat and ball.

Baseball is a grind. The “dog days of summer” don’t start in June or July but in April with the first pitch of the season.

Pitchers and catchers may report today, but April can’t get here soon enough.

With that said, though, the sport we love has returned for another year.

Baseball is back.

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