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Tomorrow, they play

Cactus League play begins Friday.

Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

The tree-bending wind that swept in last night had snow on its coattails. My car has been temporarily painted white, the heater is fully cranked, and the fireplace will be roaring when the sun fades away shortly after 5 PM.

It is otherwise just a drab Thursday in February, and it’s cold again. Except, of course, that it’s the last day without Cincinnati Reds baseball for a long, long, really long time.

Around lunchtime tomorrow, the Reds will bus their way east from their Goodyear, AZ home, a date with the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale Stadium on their docket. They'll step into the batter's box opposite ace Madison Bumgarner at some point shortly after 3:00 PM ET, at which point you'll again be able to listen to the familiar sounds while the Reds are on the ra-di-o.

Then, you'll be able to do the same on Saturday. And on Sunday. And on Monday, in April, in July, August, and September. Tomorrow, y'see, is just the first bite off that delicious [insert thing that takes forever to cook] that's been in the oven all winter, making the entire house smell like [insert same thing that you just mentioned that takes forever to cook]. And while the anticipation for that first taste is enough to keep you up all night, knowing that there's enough to last into November is the perfect antidote to make you rest easy for months thereafter.

Welcome back, Jose Peraza playing 2B and sitting atop the lineup.

Welcome back, everyone complaining about the lineup day after day after day.

Welcome back, Reds sending yet another Rookie to the mound for a start.

Welcome the hell back, baseball.