Inconceivable! (“I am thinking that this word, does not mean what you think it means.”) Pitchers and catchers across the majors have been in camp for over a week and I have not made a peep about it. My passion for baseball runs deep and this is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather is thinking about getting better (last night’s snow and ice storm not withstanding) and people are starting to talk and think about baseball. It makes me long for the days when I would be out there for practice with a long-sleeve shirt playing catch and getting the arm in shape. I actually preferred the slight chill in the air that comes with early Spring than the stifling heat of mid-Summer, so those would be some of my favorite practices.
When I was on the Varsity Baseball team in high school, we had our own version of Spring Training. We couldn’t go to some place warm and sunny (darn school!) but we would wake up before the crack of dawn and have practice before school for the entire month of February. It would start somewhere around 5am and finish around 7am. Having played sports year round, it was a very odd sensation to be able to just drive home after school and not have some kind of practice. Even more odd was how I would feel after practice and during school.
Have you ever had that feeling where you feel physically exhausted and spent, only you are mentally sharp and ready to go? Throw in feeling a little cool on the outside because of the chill in the air, but inside you feel like a furnace is blazing because of the physical exertion. That was how I would feel for most of February. This is how people must feel who wake up and run or work-out before work. I can see why people do it. I just wish I could inspire myself to do it more often. (Case in point, for the past two weeks, I have set my alarm to wake me up at 5am so that I can workout on the exercise equipment in the basement. How many times have I actually woken up and worked out? Zero. I blame the 11 month old that still doesn’t sleep through the night.)(Cause it sure isn’t my fault for having a lack of willpower. Nosiree!) I still feel that way on mornings when I get up extra early to shovel snow and I think about those February practices. (Incidentally, I also think about pancakes. My mom makes great pancakes, which I still have not been able to master despite much practice, but many times when I was kid after we would go out to shovel snow, we would come in to some of my mom’s hot pancakes. I miss those days.)
I still have a lot of very vivid memories about those early February mornings. I think it was one of the first times I felt like an adult. My parents would not get up with me or make sure I got up. (Can you blame them? I was waking up at 3am.) It was all on me. I still remember getting up and packing myself up without hearing a peep from another family member. I would wake up with a few minutes to spare and just stare at the TV for a few minutes, delaying the inevitable drive down Stoney Island into the city. All I remember is gray snow on TV, I wouldn’t have watched nothing, but that is all I remember.
I would listen to the same tape every morning on the drive in. “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos. I feel like it was the only song I listened to for the whole 45 minute ride. I’m surprised I didn’t wear that thing out. And I remember feeling cold, because my car wouldn’t warm up until about half-way to school.
I don’t know if these practices made me a better player, but I am pretty sure they made me a better person. And even if they didn’t, they sure gave me a lot of memories.