Every year to mark the start of the spring training, I do an original baseball-themed illustration. This year I've re-imagined an old team photo using four of the 2013 team's top hitters. (Hat tip to Slyde for the idea! Thanks!!) It seemed appropriate since I've been doing portraits and focusing so much on the team's history this offseason. Here's the original:
For those not quite sure, that's Vada Pinson, Gus Bell, Jerry Lynch, Wally Post
So why do we celebrate this every year? Why do baseball fans get so excited about a day that's pretty meaningless? Why do we mark the start of over a month of practice and exhibition games?
There's a scene in an early episode of the late, great TV show Sports Night where new producer Jeremy is cutting his first highlight segment for the show, a routine review of a routine baseball game. Problem is, he can't bear to cut anything. Every moment is important to him. So he ends up with an 8 minute highlight reel. Anchor Casey tries to help him out, and we get this scene:
Casey: Okay, this section here where the batter taps dirt off his shoe and spits four times...
Jeremy: We can't cut that!
Jeremy: No! The storm clouds are gathering.
Casey: [sighs] All right. Just out of curiosity, what voiceover would you have me write for this moment?
Jeremy: What's wrong with "the storm clouds are gathering"?
That's spring training for me. The storm clouds are gathering. The pace of baseball is uneven. We know that. It's sometimes all about waiting. There's lots of getting ready, of settling into stances, of positioning yourself in the field, of winding up to throw. But if you know the game, you know the value of those slow times. You know who to watch, and what to expect, and what to wait for. And then... something happens.
Yes, Opening Day isn't until April. But baseball is being talked about, and soon it'll be played, and then it'll be played and will count. I'm so excited, I can't stop smiling. Happy pitchers and catchers report day!