Thanks to the World Baseball Classic, this year's Spring Training has been bumped up a couple of weeks, and pitchers and catchers start to report on Feb. 14—Valentine's Day.
And with Valentine's Day comes the flood of "chick flicks"—movies aimed at drawing a female audience through tales of romance (grimace), female companionship (double grimace), and Meg Ryan (well, no complaints there) —to theaters and cable television.
Coincidentally, some of this year's most compelling Spring Training storylines are shaping up a lot like some of the more well-known chick flicks, which got me thinking of some new movies that should be in production...
Inspiration: The 1998 film "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"
As an A's fan, I was thrilled to hear the news that Jason Giambi was coming back to Oakland—the A's need the bat, and Giambi needed out of New York.
Obviously, Giambi also was excited to wear the green and gold again—so excited, in fact, that he put on about 15 pounds during the flight from New York, and apparently slept outside the Coliseum the night before his first press conference (see the photo, above).
I know life is a lot more laid back now that you're out of pinstripes, Jason, but it'd be nice if you got in somewhat decent shape and cleaned yourself up a little by the time Opening Day rolls around.
Inspiration: The painfully, painfully bad "What Women Want"
While Mel Gibson could read female minds in "What Women Want," it's not altogether clear if anyone—including Manny Ramirez—has any idea "What Manny Wants" this off-season.
He's turned down a $25 million, one-year deal; rejected a $45 million two-year contract (both offers from the Dodgers); and the economy isn't exactly getting any better.
But, in the end, Manny will get his money, he'll continue to be one of the game's best hitters, and as long as he avoids drunken, anti-Semitic rants, fans will continue to love him, too.
Inspiration: The 2002 film "A Walk to Remember" (based on the Nicholas Sparks thriller of the same name)
Full disclosure: I haven't seen "A Walk to Remember," but I do know (spoiler alert!) that the lead female character (played by Mandy Moore) dies in the end —similar to when a little something inside each San Francisco Giants fan dies with each Barry Zito walk.
The former Cy Young winner got paid $18 million last year to throw 102 walks, compared to 120 strikeouts.
For the Giants' sake, let's hope Zito can turn things around in '09, and fans can forget about last year's troubles.
Inspiration: The 2001 chick flick "Bridget Jones's Diary"
Whether or not he knows it, Andruw Jones can sympathize with Renee Zellweger's portrayal of Bridget Jones.
Jones's weight fluctuates due to uneven eating habits; Jones struggles finding a compatible suitor; and Jones is the punchline of a lot of jokes.
Which Jones am I referring to?
Andruw just signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers. How the mighty have fallen.
Inspiration: The 1990 film "Truly Madly Deeply" (not the Savage Garden song that was stuck in your head for two weeks in 1997)
In "Truly Madly Deeply," the female lead (played by Juliet Stevenson) struggles accepting that her boyfriend (Alan Rickman) is dead, and is thrilled when he returns to her as a ghost of his former self.
But in the end, things aren't the same, and the human-ghost relationship ends.
Sound familiar, Mariners fans? Seattle's on the verge of bringing back Ken Griffey Jr.—the guy the entire city of Seattle, and pretty much any baseball fan in the country, idolized for 11 years.
But the Griffey set to return isn't the same guy. He's a 20-year veteran with a history of injuries, who's averaged just over 20 home runs a year since leaving Seattle. How long will the reunion last, Seattle fans?
Inspiration: "City of Angels," starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have fallen in love with the guy they hope is the team's next big bat: Bobby Abreu.
Granted, Abreu isn't going to fill the void left by departed sluggers Mark Teixeira and Garret Anderson by himself, but if he stays healthy, he'll be worth the $5 million (plus $3 million of incentives) the team is paying him.
Plus, the contract also includes a provision that the Goo Goo Dolls' single "Iris" plays before every Abreu at bat.
Inspiration: The Billy Crystal/Meg Ryan classic "When Harry Met Sally"
Can men be friends without the steroids? That question serves as the tagline for this classic.
This is a tale of two guys (Barry Bonds and Victor Conte) who have trouble accepting how important they are to each others' lives.
Following Bonds' record-setting home run display during the early part of the decade, I'd bet more than a few players called Conte to say "I'll have what Barry's having."