It happens every spring. There comes a time when the rituals of the exhibition season turn repetitive enough that we can wander away from following things on a daily basis without missing much. Not you, Gardy. I’m speaking for most of the rest of us. Ask most players, especially the ones who have a pretty good idea of what their place will be come Opening Day, and they may admit that the next 10 days or so are pretty much of a grind. Pitchers often have a stale-armed outing as they stretch out to five or six innings for a start (or pitch a couple of days in a row out of the bullpen) and position players sometimes start hacking because a 2 1/4 hour meaningless game beats one that takes 3 1/2 hours.
Some mysteries seem solved. The Twins are apparently settled on four of their starting pitchers. The JD Durbin situation and the debate over whether to carry 11 pitchers or 12 linger, but that’s not going to hold my attention in the way that, say, the first rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will. It seems sure that Jason Kubel and Rondell White are healthier than in ’06 and the position starters are totally set.
The choice of a backup infielder just isn’t as grabby as watching over my March Madness bracket. (Ohio State over UCLA for the title, if you wanna know. Old Dominion, Arkansas and Albany for first-round upsets, too.) By next weekend, I may be ready to watch high school basketball again, but that’s still up for debate after the household team got tripped up in overtime in the subsection final the other night. (Don’t get me started about 3-man crews officiating high school games. Surely, there are better roads to full employment.)
Those last few days in March will be time to get dialed back into spring training. The rosters will be almost all the way there and I’ll want to see how the chosen starters look during their final turn through the exhibition rotation. That’s when I’ll get my baseball edge back, counting the hours until 6 p.m. on April 2.
(Hey, Pete Rose. Why should we believe you now?)