Monday, February 26, 2007

Spring is When You Can Watch Grass Grow

What passes for big news in spring training is what reminds me how glad I am I'm not there.

At least, not there working. Hanging out in the warm sun watching men play catch is a pleasant pastime. Coming up with articles of general interest out of that experience is not.

Manny Ramirez arrived at Red Sox camp this morning. Whoop-de-do. In the cosmic scheme of Red Sox 2007, it wouldn't matter if the slugger had arrived last week, today, March 1 as he intended, or about six hours before the start of the regular season. Ramirez's career statistics strongly suggest he needs less baseball practice than most other people.

The same goes for that infamous car show. The only way Ramirez could create REAL news with a classic car is drive it head-on into a school bus.

In pure baseball terms, spring training is for pitchers to get their arms ready for the brutal stress of the 162-game season. It serves no other practical purpose besides a certain amount of intersquad schmoozing between guys who'll be sick of each other's company by August.

In journalistic terms, spring training is for pleasant features on players old and new and their optimistic hopes for the season ahead. There are many old ex-players around, too, and they can provide the occasional nice story.

I'm not knocking those stories. I've written my share. People like them. They're a way to pretend it isn't snowing outside. But it's a little dispiriting to go back into one's papers archives and read the exact same features from 1913 spring training. They're purely ritualistic, like live shots of the mayor serving turkey to the destitute on Thanksgiving.

Spring training is NOT for breaking news, unless a player breaks a bone himself. And while I recognize shit-disturbing is now the highest and most crowded form of journalism, those who indulge in it in spring training do nothing but make asses of themselves. They're out of touch with the rhythm of the sport. In March, players are at their lightest and most mutually tolerant. It's only during the endless 162 they get on each other's nerves. I believed Curt Schilling when he said his discussion with Red Sox management was amicable last week. I also believe he might have a different take on that conversation by the All-Star break.

Any newspaper, radio station, TV station, or internet site which files the following report from Red Sox spring training deserves every award journalism has to offer.

"FORT MYERS-Nothing of note happened to the Red Sox today."


Post a Comment

<< Home