As has become tradition, The Good Point decided to skip the border and travel south for coverage of the Grapefruit League. It was a long and tiresome trek from the snow-soaked streets of Ontario, but one as worth it as ever. I actually type right now from the over-air conditioned confines of a Barnes & Noble cafeteria in Clearwater, forcing down the remains of a slice of cheesecake left to stagnate behind the counter late into the night.
The thick layer of film that coats the stubby chunk left festering on my plate reminds me that I ought never spend Saturdays this way in the first place. This time of year though it’s natural.
Joined by associate editor Jared Macdonald – with whom I’ll cover the same gamut of ball teams we covered last year – I brace for the week ahead. Having already cheated and stolen our first glimpse of Spring Training earlier in the day as civilians, we’re pining doubly in anticipation of taking the field tomorrow with our journalist hats on and locked. Though it’s always nice to observe from the stands, crammed in pews of stadium bleachers, oily knees knocking with neighbours on both sides, nothing can quite compare to the thrill of stepping into the clubhouse or jockeying for elbow position in the overcrowded photo bays that dot the sidelines of the field. Body odour and sunburns aside, this is what we come for.
Much has changed since last March (more on that, plenty more on that at some point later, maybe 50 years later) but one theme remains the same; no matter how much time one spends behind the scenes with legends – athletes of course, but also the occasional media member – the awe never fades. Or at least it hasn’t and I hope that it doesn’t. At the same time, though, we cling desperately to the passion that led us all into the field of sports writing in the first place, the obsessive need to be included in the living, breathing industry we drooled for as kids, the reason we never truly considered getting any other job, any real job. If watching sports as civilians – as opposed to journalists – ever loses its effect, the very foundation on which we’ve established our lives falls apart.
Though it will be nice catching up with Brett Lawrie in the McKechnie Field visitor’s clubhouse tomorrow, no doubt talking on the record about his four RBIs in the March opener today, will or could it ever replace the flood of adrenaline that comes from watching the same thing unfold in the throes of the crowd?
Here’s hoping I never find out.
Stick around TheGP in the next few weeks for Spring Training coverage and the subsequent trickle of feature pieces to be published throughout the early summer.
Follow @TheGoodPoint on Twitter for typical, general sports coverage, or maybe better yet @Jared_Macdonald, our resident baseball analyst and senior editor . There’s always, of course, an alternative in the form of my own twisted, personal soapbox at @AustinKent. Yeah, I really don’t know why you would follow that one.