Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Spring training will start soon, which means that we're treated to an annual rite of spring:

Time for sportswriters to consult the stories they wrote last year and repost them. Every year the same stories are written. Watch for

(a) The player from central America who's late due to "visa problems". The manager will say it's no big deal. The general manager will say "he's working on it". But it's worth a story every year.

(b) The Guy Who Shows Up Late (without a visa problem). Every year someone has "personal issues" and misses the first couple of days. The general manager "isn't happy about it". The manager "hasn't heard from him". He shows up two days late and everyone promptly forgets about it until next year because no one really cares.

(b) The Grizzled Veteran. Some over the hill retread will have been invited to camp. He "brings a lot of experience" and "he's a great example for the kids". He'll hit well for a couple of weeks, then fade, and won't make the opening day roster. (When cut, he'll whine that he "wasn't given a fair shot" because he "knows he can still contribute", but that story doesn't have to be 'written' until late March.)

(c)(1) The Guy Who's With A New Team. Maybe he was traded, maybe he signed elsewhere. But some reporter will visit him at the new team's site and ask deep questions like "Do you talk with your former teammates?" The player will likely have no hard feelings and will be excited about the upcoming season.

(c)(2) The New Guy. See above. But this time he's being interviewed by his new hometown newspaper.

(d) The Old Coach. Every team has an old guy hanging around. He's likely spitting sunflower seeds. He'll talk about how it was back when he first reported to spring training 50 years ago.

(e) The Guy Who's In Great Shape. Every year someone will have really worked hard in the offseason (i.e. it's a contract year). He's probably hired a new personal trainer and had lots of vegetables.

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