Return of baseball signals fresh start

We’re stuck in a frozen waste- land. Temperatures are below zero more often than they should be, even for winter. Snowfall after snowfall dumping the white death on the roads, sidewalks and grass with no end in sight.

Until now.

Lost in the Olympics (or because most Cubs fans have just given up at this point) was the start of spring training. Baseball teams flying south, west or south- west to warmer climates and lac- ing up the cleats to prepare for another run at the title.

Finally.

Don’t get me wrong, I love win- ter. I was born in January, so I’m pretty sure that makes winter my favorite season by default. But I have never, ever seen a winter as annoying as this one.

Seeing the updates on Twitter from baseball writers showing the players in batting practice, or even just jogging in the outfield, has thrown my mind into a spring state there’s little hope for me to escape from. The fact that semi-real games started this week is just the icing on the cake.

Hope abounds in the preseason. It doesn’t matter what your finish was the season before. All it takes is one rookie to figure out things faster than you thought and provide a spark to your team.

Maybe a plan, foundation for it laid long ago, finally starts to come together. Or maybe you’re the Yankees and you’re just going to buy whomever you want.

I’m done with winter. Odds are, so are you. What we’re watching this week in Florida and Arizona proves that Mother Nature is almost done, too. Just a little bit more suffering, and we’ll be there. But there’s hope.

It’s more than just weather, though. For some of us, baseball represents a link to the past, a way to connect with relatives who shared the same passion for the sport we do. The sport has always tried to market itself as a game for any generation by striking a balance between change and tradition.

For me, the tradition of baseball is huge. The Cincinnati Reds are considered the first professional baseball team by most sources, and that’s a huge source of pride for us. The team constantly tries to tip their cap to tradition and so does baseball in general. But change is a natural part of life.

The changes to rules like collisions at home plate and replay have helped update the sport to the newest century. But the core of the sport remains mostly the same. It’s still three outs, nine innings, 90 feet. None of that has changed, and none of it will.

It’s been a long, cold winter, but there’s light at the end of the fro- zen tunnel. I don’t care if you’re a Cubs, Cardinals or White Sox fan. I don’t care if you’re pro-Kaboom! or anti-Kaboom! Baseball is back, and that’s something everyone can get behind.