Man, what I wouldn't give to be in Dunedin.
How great would it be to watch these boys lope around those practice fields? To see Rios Grande rip a couple of Denbo's BP pitches over the wall, or to sit in rapt silence and absorb the wisdom of Our Pal Sal...
Mostly, though, wouldn't it be super amazing to be a Jays beat writer, and to hustle your ass, work your contacts, and do that extra bit of homework in order to scoop your fellow scribes with dirt like Alex Rios has a wacky haircut! Or: Baseball players drive expensive cars!
On the real, though, I've been to Spring Training a couple of times - not to the Jays camp, but to those of the Phillies, Reds and Twins - and what nails you right between the eyes when you go to these places is the breeziness of it all. Sure, there are guys fighting for jobs, and others facing an uphill climb back from injury. There are serious matters to be settled, and real work to be done, but underlying it all is the wink and nudge of Can you believe this is our job? Men who've been playing this game since they were boys are given the opportunity to earn ungodly sums of money to continue playing it at the highest level, and every year it begins here, beneath that perfect sun, in late winter. They convene, straggling into camp from scattered points, and then they go about the business of preparing themselves for the long season ahead.
Nice work, if you can get it.
The hope, of course, is that the drills you run here, the extra BP or the longer bullpen sessions, all contribute to keep you playing longer into the fall. And call me a homer, but something feels different this year; the news coming out of Dunedin has a different edge to it. It feels for all the world as though the Jays have a better chance of playing in October than they have for years. It will require a lot of things falling into place, of course, but there's a wild card for the taking, and I think this squad's got an outside chance to nab it.
TBotO's prediction: 92 wins. The question is, will that be enough?