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An ode to spring training

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Sitting within winter's chilly deep-freeze

Our brains cry out for the spring's warming sun.

We search for signs that put our minds at ease

Like the sharp crack of a well-struck home run.

An eager anticipation rises;

Whose legend begins with the year's first pitch?

Which unknown becomes the face of the sport?

This game will not run out of surprises.

It's the time when fans become truly rich;

The time when pitchers and catchers report.

Florida swamps, Arizona deserts,

Hosting leagues named for grapefruit and cactus.

Players damp from the efforts they exert

Sprinting and swinging their way through practice.

Veterans trying to play out the string,

Superstars at the height of their powers;

Faded prospects getting one final shot

And hotshot rookies perfecting their swings.

And we, the fans, can while away hours

As the game consumes our every thought.

From Williams to Rice to Nomar to Youk,

From Ruth and Gehrig to Jorge and Jeter;

Legends like Willie, Mickey and the Duke

Fielding fly balls and swinging at heaters.

Spring training's arrival heralds the season

Better than flowers or showers or grass;

It is the truest spring rite of them all.

It's a time of instinct over reason;

Everyone is first and no one is last

And your team just might play deep into fall.

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