The arrival of spring training is a welcome one. As a baseball blogger, it's worth an endless supply of espresso because a winter full of contract posturing had grown old by Christmas. Opening a RSS reader full of articles containing actual quotes from actual baseball players has a weird, restorative quality to it.
But with the advent of a new season upon us, our new challenge is to sift through six weeks' worth of optimistic copy and figure what's useful and what is not. That's an impossible task with so much hyperbole being thrown around, but it becomes a lot more manageable when you watch this clip of Vin Scully on a NBC spring training special from 1988.
(Note: The whole thing is worth a nostalgic watch, but Vin doesn't appear until the 1:45 mark.)
"If you're going to be a salesman and sell a car with three tires on it and close your eyes to the rim, OK. But if you wanna be honest and 'fess up and tell it straight, then hold on to that perspective, it's only the spring." — Vin Scully
I'd venture to guess that spring training hyperbole has been toned down somewhat over the past few decades as advanced projection systems have become more mainstream.
Also, as Jeff Passan noted in Monday morning's 10 Degrees, baseball doesn't need Tebowmania or Linsanity to fuel itself through March (though I would argue that Philadelphia's four aces and Jason Heyward got pretty close to resembling a hysteria the past two springs). As more and more people recognize that failure is part of the game for every ballplayer, baseball can be considered the most realistic of sports when it comes to expectations.
At the same time, I still enjoy the universal optimism because of a perspective that Scully did not mention. After the teams break from Arizona and Florida, there will be plenty of time to dissect slumps, lingering injuries and seasons gone bad. We can enjoy what we have right now, so long as we don't get too crazy.
Big BLS H/N: Amazin' Avenue