Steve Klein set up a blog called Bush League Ramble a couple of years ago and has been writing sporadically about baseball on there (and for a few other sites) ever since. His latest undertaking is Reading The Game, a baseball books podcast which delves deeply into a specific book and analyses its impact on the game. Follow him on Twitter @BushLeagueSteve and check out the podcast @RTGPod.
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
The regular season comes to an end. Baseball, like a tremendous volcano has spewed out data points tirelessly all summer long, and begins to relax into the splutter of the postseason. Suddenly there are whole days at a time with no live baseball being played. It finally settles dormant and November passes with barely a flicker of life.
December winter meetings come and go, largely uneventful and almost completely ignorable to this fan, requiring only a cursory weekly glance at the At Bat app to catch up on comings and goings across the league. Focus switches instead to Christmas festivities, and to the vain hope that a sympathetic loved one might see fit to embellish your cap collection, or stumble across your Amazon wishlist and not baulk at the cost of shipping a book from the US.
You read, you rest, you might even do things unrelated to baseball, and you pore over early projections to decide who you will keep in your dynasty league and who you will cast aside. Are you done, Joey Votto? Is the run-scoring environment at Busch Stadium going to hurt you, Paul Goldschmidt? Is your breakout for real, David Peralta?
Into the new year and the farce of Free Agent signing season. The ramping up of the coverage from the ‘your guess is as good as mine’ updates to the ‘how many different ways can I report that I haven’t got a clue where any of these guys will end up’ exclusives. The contemplation of the great existential question – If nobody were there to read John Heyman’s four tweets in the space of a few hours saying precisely nothing in four different ways, would they really exist?
And then you wake up and it is late-February again, and the beast begins to stir. It emerges, yawning, from its cold, dark cave and stretches out in the bright Florida sunshine. All around you are reminders that you have nearly made it through the winter and that spring is just around the corner. Because baseball is not a matter of life and death, it is just a matter of life. It is spring. It is rebirth. It is daffodils and crocuses. It is the warmth of blue Arizona skies in my ears as I listen to a spring training game on my headphones on a dreary grey evening.
March now, and the countdown is on. You can forgive yourself for allowing yourself once again to forget that spring training is absolutely rubbish, and that you can barely bring yourself to watch any of the games or even any of the highlights because it is all so utterly meaningless. You begin to consume content at an excited, feverish rate, as receipts for subscriptions to websites and MLB TV fly into your inbox, and you have to explain again to your family why your phone is always in your hand. You listen avidly to podcast after podcast and retrain yourself to be able to follow along at ever increasingly multiplied speeds so you can cram more into your commute or your carrying out of every domestic chore.
Fantasy draft season arrives (is there anything more fun than a fantasy auction?) and you pore over multiple projections, striving to discover some market inefficiency, to unearth a diamond in the rough. You are as ready as it is possible to be, and yet you know that you are not ready enough, that when the draft starts your plans will go out the window as you flail desperately to put together a half decent team.
Three weeks, two weeks, a week, so close now. It’s coming. You can feel it, hear it, taste it.
Let’s. Play. Ball.