As January begins to wind down much of the country is covered in a blanket of snow with temperatures as low as Randy Johnson’s ERA. To some it feels like baseball season is years away. But in Arizona the sun is shining brightly and the grass of the practice facilities at Salt River Fields look like a carpet of lush green turf.
Walking around the Salt River Fields complex this time of year is a surreal experience. Everywhere you look the preparations have begun for pitchers and catchers to report. In a few short weeks the sounds of baseballs snapping into gloves and the crack of the bat will be heard. Coaches will be barking orders and players will fill the complex with activity.
Pitchers and catchers are due to report February 19th with position players following a few short days later. But before that date the Arizona Diamondbacks like the other 29 Major League Baseball teams will begin the task of extending invitations to Spring Training. Anyone who has ever played the game has dreamt of receiving that invitation. There’s just something about receiving a letter with the team’s logo on the envelope that starts your heart pumping.
Most of us will never know that feeling. We have to be content going to the box office and buying a ticket to get close to the game. So while I know I will never get that opportunity to receive an invitation, I find myself going down to the mailbox every day putting the key in the lock hoping to find that my dreams are becoming a reality.
Every one of us is a little like Charlie Bucket from the movie Willy Wonka. We live in modest accommodations compared to big league players but we dream that some how, some way we will get a golden ticket.
Instead of a factory tour filled with magical chocolate making, we dream of following in the footsteps of baseball legends. Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall sits in his office dressed in a purple velvet coat and Sedona Red top hat pondering how he can bring joy to baseball fans and players alike.
Tony LaRussa and his band of mad scientists are busy stirring the roster in hopes of creating a wonderful confection. I can almost hear General Manager Dave Stewart and Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations De Jon Watson singing the Oompa Loompa song as they add names to the invitee list to be reviewed by Derrick Wonka.
Today as I approach the mailbox I’m humming “Pure Imagination” hoping that this is the day I reach into the mailbox and retrieve a golden ticket. Instead I find an advertisement for female hormone replacement therapy and an invitation to tour a dentist office. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of what I was hoping to find.