Baseball Is Back. Madness Approaches.
March 7, 2011

The crack of the bat. The pop of the glove. The tear of the hamstring. Ahh, March is here, and so is baseball. On Thursday, ESPN televised a meaningless game between the Detroit Tigers and the Atlanta Braves. Heaven. Atlanta scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to win 4-3, but that didn't matter. Baseball is back, and that's what counts.

This is a time when even as a Dodger fan, you can't wait to hear Jon Miller do Giants games on the radio, and Ray Fosse on the A's broadcasts talk about catchers like there's no other important position on the field. The Dodgers and Cubs were on WGN yesterday. It wasn't about the score, but more how Chad Billingsley looked, and just to watch a game for the first time in four months.

Unfortunately, the main topics of discussion by the broadcasters were Miguel Cabrera's drinking, Coco Crisp's drinking, and comparing that to Josh Hamilton's past drinking, but maybe it's best to get that out of the way early. There's all month to discuss fifth starters, closers, and who the Dodgers left fielder is going to be.

Injuries are certainly part of spring. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, a 19-game winner last year, needs Tommy John surgery and is out for the year, other pitchers are skipping starts as a precautionary measure, and Minnesota's Justin Morneau suffered a concussion last July and still isn't ready to go. All of those things are concerns to fans of those teams, and what the chances are of winning a World Series this year.

If you like watching meaningless baseball, there is a lot of it on TV this month. ESPN is doing ten games, WGN has seven, and locally the Giants have five broadcasts and the A's have two. That's 24 games in 27 days. Maybe that's a little bit of overkill, but it certainly gets you ready for the baseball season. And (as I always have to remind myself) there's no law that says you have to watch every game.

And if that isn't enough sports fans, don't forget college basketball. The NCAA Tournament starts on March 15, with conference tournaments already underway. The brackets will be out Sunday. Starting Friday (March 11), and continuing until Tuesday March 29, in that 19-day period, there will be either a baseball game, NCAA Tournament basketball game, or both, on TV every day. You can take March 30 off, rest up, and be ready for baseball's ESPN Opening Day tripleheader on March 31. March is one month where I'm glad I don't have a job.

Tales of Spring: Listening to Saturday's Giants game on the radio, Jon Miller told a story that he was once a vendor at the Oakland Coliseum. As a teenager, he worked a hot August Raiders game and was assigned to sell popcorn. It didn't go too well... Last spring in the eighth inning or so of a blowout, Miller and his partner (I think it was Mike Krukow) were discussing their favorite I-Phone apps. You don't get stories like those anywhere else.