Baseball’s Mardi Gras Season

Happy Mardi Gras!

Is that something you even say? I’m not much of a Mardi Gras-er, so I don’t really know the lingo. Here’s pretty much all I know about Mardi Gras:

  • I know what it is… kind of. (Fat Tuesday is the night before Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, but people pretty much celebrate for several weeks leading up to that date).
  • I know that, while New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras, it’s actually celebrated in a lot of other cities, too. (I still haven’t figured out what the difference is between Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, but then I really don’t care, either.)
  • There’s something about “king cake” with a tiny plastic baby baked in to it, though I never cared enough about that to ask what it’s all about. (I do like cake, but I’m not real big on choking to death on tiny plastic toys hidden in my cake.)

That’s it, really.

Oh wait a minute…

  • Beads… I know about beads and how they are acquired. (Men have to buy them, women don’t, yet somehow by the end of the night, women are wearing almost all of them.)

One thing I’ve really never quite figured out about Mardi Gras is… well… WHY? Best I can tell, Mardi Gras is about partying without conscience right up to Ash Wednesday, when I guess you’re supposed to sober up and face the reality of your actions.

No, I really don’t “get” Mardi Gras.

Then again, I have a lot of friends who can’t quite grasp why I get all excited about Spring Training, either. They don’t understand why I would devote so much time following what really is nothing more than “baseball practice,” much less why I would use up a week’s worth of vacation from work and a fair amount of money every year to travel almost 1,000 miles to WATCH that practice and a few games that don’t count.

I try to explain…

  • It’s a stretch of several weeks when we get to watch baseball and talk about baseball without guilt or anxiety. Yes, there are games being played (a full month’s worth, actually), but we really don’t care who wins them. After all, a loss in a Spring Training game has absolutely no effect on a team’s place in the standings.
  • We’ve spent months dealing with snow and cold and Spring Training is held someplace very warm. Face it, if you told your family you wanted to go to Florida for a week in March for any reason other than Spring Training, they’d probably tell you that you’re too old for “spring break.”
  • But the best thing about Spring Training is that it allows us to celebrate the arrival of the baseball season and think about all of the “what ifs” that might allow our favorite team to be contenders. We can spend several weeks speculating about whether this veteran still can play or that young player will have a breakout season, without being proven right or wrong immediately.

But most people don’t get it. Only other “baseball people” understand… and not even all of them seem to grasp the concept.

By this time of year, I am tired. I’m tired of arguing about moves that were made and moves that weren’t. I don’t want to debate whether finishing .500 is a reasonable expectation for the Twins or whether there’s any chance they could compete for the AL Central Division if they stay healthy and I certainly don’t want to think about the possibility that they could be as bad as (or even worse than) last season. There will be time enough for that when the euphoria of spring ends and we have to face the reality of the wins and losses that count.

Right now, I just want to celebrate the arrival of Spring Training. I want to talk about what could be. I want to get drunk on stories about bullpen sessions and batting practice and fielding drills and how the Twins are going to play much better defense this season.

I’ll just keep overindulging on the possibilities, right up through the last Spring Training game of the year. Then, and only then, I’ll return to reality when the Twins take the field at Camden Yards on April 6.

Yes, Spring Training will be my Mardi Gras. Now… who wants beads?

– JC

One Reply to “Baseball’s Mardi Gras Season”

  1. I honestly don’t know how, if you are a fan of baseball, you can’t get excited for Spring Training. Even if your team is the Orioles, or the Astros, isn’t bad, springtime baseball better than no baseball at all??