New York Yankees fans will probably concern themselves more with Michael Pineda than with Freddy Garcia during spring training. Chicago Cubs fans will have closer eyes on Starlin Castro than on Alfonso Soriano or Randy Wells. Arizona Diamondbacks rooters will worry more about the health of Stephen Drew than about John McDonald.
That's all fine. Fans who know the game, know it's a game for young men and teams who aren't able to move on when a veteran begins to be a drag on the roster are doomed to fail. It's a cutthroat game, and a large percentage of its fans view wins and losses as the sole acceptable barometer for success.
It's not that way for the players, though, nor for all fans. Some remain who enjoy baseball for what it has to teach us, about aging, about maturity and about the nobility of struggling for the sake of a dream every day, even if that dream has to die someday.
The lessons we really learn from baseball should not be sought in the ninth inning of a playoff game or in the tabloid photos of some star out on the town. They are out there, on dusty secondary fields in Arizona complexes on trainers' tables an even operating tables and on buses bound for the other side of Florida, trudging through air so thick it seems to sap the life from aging muscles, and yet, infuses young ones with fresh pliability.
When the Greeks wanted to communicate something universal to one another, they didn't try to do so on a level with the common man. In all their mythology and their tragedies and comedies, Sophocles and Euripides and Homer and the rest gave their audiences kings and gods as protagonists.
They understood that nothing in the human experience, nothing common or populist, is so universal as the dream of being rich and famous, powerful and gifted. We learn best when we are able to see ourselves in those we admire or envy. With that in mind, here is the player on each MLB team whose career is on the line this spring.
Don't focus on the millions these guys may have already made; think about what it must be like to know you're playing for the right to keep chasing your dream. Think about how it feels when you're playing for everything, and the world calls it an exhibition.