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March 26: Spring Training 2001

One of the great things about being a baseball writer is that you never lack for a metaphor, a symbolic hook, or an irony. I just sat down at my computer, having gotten off an airplane from Florida an hour ago, and what do I see outside my window here in Boston? Yes, my friends, it has begun to snow.

Today is March 26th, and you’d think with Opening Day exactly one week away, we’d have a few buds on the trees and a breath of warm breeze. But perhaps the weather is merely reflecting the mood of Red Sox fans throughout the region: Nomar’s going to have surgery, Manny’s got a pulled hamstring, and their starting five will be rounded out by a rookie who missed part of last season thanks to a back injury sustained when he fell out of a hotel bed onto a drinking glass. For Sox fans, the season is coming up too fast–they’d rather the clock be turned back a few weeks, back when Ramirez could still be seen as a savior, the comebacks of Bret Saberhagen and David Cone were still serious possibilities, and Nomar was gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated. Poor Sox fans.

Meanwhile, even though they got off to a frighteningly good start in Spring Training, the Yankees are back at the very bottom of the Grapefruit League rankings with an 8-17 record. In other words, all is right with the world as far as Yankee-watchers are concerned. It almost seems like a tradition for the Yankees to lose a lot of games in March; perhaps those unused wins are cashed in in October. In Yankee camp hope is very much alive.

So I sit here watching the snow come down, but anticipating another great season–baseball season, I mean. One more week to go. If you’re like me, you can hardly wait. Well, I’ll be keeping myself busy this week writing up my many adventures from Spring Training, and to keep yourself busy, you can read them. See ya on Opening Day!

Things I Learned from 2001 Spring Training

1. NY Yankees prospects and rookies are almost good enough to beat other teams’ starting 9. Almost.
2. Mariano Rivera is so soft-spoken it’s hard to hear what he says even from 2 feet away. (But wait ’til you hear what he said!)
3. You can tell who the rookies are because they haven’t learned to ignore you yet.
4. Only one team rivals the Yankees in terms of how many autograph seekers they attract. (Hint: it wasn’t the Blue Jays.)
5. The Rangers have a star and his name’s Rodriguez. Ivan Rodriguez.
6. Chuck Knoblauch is a hard man to keep down.
7. It’s hard to be happy with a tie-score final.
8. My cat-sitter drinks Diet Dr. Pepper.
9. Wear sunblock.

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