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Spring training brings respite from troubles

There are a number of items that have been taped around my office cubicle.

They’re usually up for months at a time.

Doctor’s appointment cards.

Faxes of cartoons.

Pictures of pets.

A couple of other particular items are taped up there, too, but only for the next six weeks.

They’re truly important for this time of year.

Especially this year.

I’m talking about spring training schedules.

One each for the Pirates, Phillies and Rays.

I am definitely ready for big league baseball, even if it’s just the spring training variety.

That is, until the Rays’ regular season home opener April 13 against the Yankees.

I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way around town.

Wednesday’s Grapefruit opener at McKechnie Field can’t get here soon enough.

I can already feel the electricity of the crowd, smell the hot dogs, hear the old recording of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.

That it’s the Phillies and Pirates is neat, but I’m just glad we’ve got a game to enjoy at the ol’ ballyard on Ninth Street West. Twenty more ballgames after that, too.

Sweet.

Spring training baseball has been romanticized forever.

It’s a rite of spring.

It’s a period of time when we return to our youth.

It transforms us with the promise of spring after a bitter winter.

OK, maybe that sentimental shtick gets overdone, but it’s appropriate.

After the way we’ve been pounded with discouraging economic news month after month, the chance to sit in the stands at McKechnie on a sunny day watching a baseball game will be an absolute godsend.

Not to mention the chance to sneak out of the office on a weekday afternoon.

It’s one of the beautiful things about McKechnie Field.

Doubt I’ll make it to the Rays’ new digs in Port Charlotte, which is a bit of a haul.

Clearwater, where the Phillies train, is a drive, too.

But that’s my team.

When I lived on Florida’s east coast and spring training arrived, I had ballclubs all around.

The Braves and Expos were in West Palm Beach, the Yankees in Fort Lauderdale, the Rangers in Pompano Beach.

There’d be plenty of time to catch some games.

Or so I thought.

Next thing I knew, spring training was over and I hadn’t seen one game.

Since moving here, I’ve never repeated my mistake of taking spring training for granted.

Hope to see you Wednesday.

Play ball!

Mannix About Manatee, by local columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or email him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification.

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