Over the past couple years, Major League Baseball's Hot Stove has reminded me more of a high school hallway than a professional sport's offseason.
"Did you hear about Jake and the Cubs?"
"No, what happened?"
"They broke up again."
"Not again! Things were going so well! I really thought they were going to make it this time..."
This is the only time of year where we hang on every word, trying to be the first to hear the new gossip or break the newest news. I can't tell you how many times I've logged onto my favorite insider source and looked at Mark Teixeira's potential destinations. One second he's going to stay with the Angels, the next he's shipping off to Boston, the next he's going to join the once-again evil empire, the next he's going to Washington. I keep logging in though because I have to.
Aside: Do any of us truly believe he's going to land in Washington? A place destined for mediocrity for probably another decade? A team worse than the Kansas City Royals? It would be like Barry Zito signing his Giants contract in the post-Bonds, pre-Lincecum time period. You know how it goes: I'll eat my hat if...
This is the only time of year when Brian Fuentes is a huge deal. He's like the nerd who got a makeover and is now dating the super hot Shelby Hayes. How many times during the season did you hear the Rockies' lefty closer's name uttered in the same breath as K-Rod or even yet, the all-time saves leader? It's only during the offseason Fuentes can be mentioned in their class.
This is the only time of year we get to catch up with old friends.
"Hi, I'm Matt Clement."
They always pop up this time of year. Guys who we haven't seen, better yet, thought of, in years.
"OMG Tammy, did you hear that Scott Erickson is thinking about coming back to school?"
Well, he is.
This is the only time of year when we look at baseball as nothing more than a waste of money and in a way, time. The team's are nothing more than logos handing out wads of millions to pretty boys, to middle relievers who will definitely bring so-and-so to the World Series for sure this year, and already rich, greedy ballplayers. And once they make all the trades, signings, etc., we have to wait months until we get to see it come to fruition.
So why am I caring so much if only matters once April hits?
We still think there's going to be a player who signs for something more than money. We're holding out for the everyman who realizes he gets to play our favorite pastime as a job and get paid millions for doing so.
We want to see our teams improve, even if we can't see it now.
We get occasional beautiful moments. Greg Maddux retiring is one of them. Last year, it was every team's unwillingness to sign Barry Bonds.
Lastly, we love baseball. We love the purity of the sport. The beauty of a man moving from second-to-third-to-home on a hit and a sac fly.
We need something. If we can't have the grass or the game, we might as well have the gossip.
Until April, I'll be hanging out near locker No. 416. See you there.