A rebirth

Ahhhh … There it is. Spring Training comes and brings with it the sense of a new beginning, the excitement of a new love, the fresh, invigorating smell of a new car.

Or something like that.

The images of fresh white uniforms, bright Florida sunshine and players, new and old, in new places brings the warmth of southern climes to the cold, brisk days of a New Jersey winter.

After an offseason of steroids and George Mitchell’s term paper, it’s a relief to have real baseball again — even if it’s just workouts and pitchers’ fielding practice. It all has me a bit reinspired — and with a plan. I’ve neglected this blog through three months of a Hot Stove season that saw several blockbuster trades, mediocre free agents getting ginormous deals and my favorite team landing the best pitcher in the game.

And I was inspired to write about none of it. That’s not why I started this blog. And while 230 (now 231) posts in nearly (approximately) four years isn’t bad — it’s a pace of roughly 57 per year, more than one a week — I feel it’s not quite what it could be. So starting now, I’m rededicating myself to it. If I can’t reach 282 posts by this time next year — that is, if I can’t average one post a week for the next 52 weeks — maybe it’s time to retire it, to abandon this effort. If this 2008 season, with its anniversaries and goodbyes, can’t bring back the fire to combine my twin loves of baseball and writing, then perhaps I shouldn’t put the pressure on myself.

My plan at this point is to preview each division over the next six weeks, plus I’ve got a three-day trip to Florida’s Treasure Coast in March to see the Braves, Dodgers and Mets play exhibition games. I’ve got tickets for the final game at Shea Stadium and plans to find my way back to Opening Day once again. There’s an All-Star Game (and a FanFest to go with it) coming to New York in July, and another season of minor league ball ready to go throughout New Jersey, plus a new team a little more than an hour away in eastern Pennsylvania. If I can’t be jump-started by all of that, then it’s time to stop pretending.

So despite the house projects, tax preparation and work this weekend, I expect to take a look at the AL West (like ESPN The Magazine, I’ll mix things up and go West to East, since everyone else goes East to West; plus, it allows me to finish up with my Mets). Detroit Central will follow by next weekend, with the East after that. By that schedule, I’ll finish each division before the A’s and Red Sox “kick off” the season with two games in Japan March 25 and 26, then have another week for some overall look-ahead before the campaign begins in earnest on March 31.

And then we’ll see how it goes from there.

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