Cheap Seats

It’s time to play baseball and put business aside

On the bright side, it seems that the Major League Baseball off-season just flew right by.

I can’t believe that in a week pitchers and catchers will report to spring training. It’s soon going to be my favorite time of the year. So why doesn’t it feel like it’s time for baseballs to start flying through the air?

Mostly, it’s because the natural order of things has been interrupted by the bizarre winter that saw several of the top players on the market — Yu Darvish, Jake Arietta, J.D. Martinez and others — still searching for a team as clubs ship their gear to Florida and Arizona for the rapidly-approaching beginning of spring training.

I’ve been sitting here waiting for step one of the process of getting baseball back on the field to happen, and here we are going straight to step two. It just doesn’t seem right.

No matter how it works out, I hope the resolution to this logjam comes quickly. I want to enjoy watching the game on the field instead of worrying about the distraction of rumors floating around about who is going to sign where and when they’re going to do it. It’s embarrassing to see some of the best players in the game going to a silly free agent camp to try to convince a team to give them a contract. This is the time of year for the games to begin and for the shenanigans of agents and general managers to take a back seat to the real action.

I’m not convinced the Redbirds are ready for prime time. They still, in my opinion, are a good starting pitcher and a dominant closer away from competing for first place. The latest projections peg St. Louis as an 85-win team that will finish in third place, yet general manager Michael Girsch continues to express confidence that his team will surprise everyone and compete for the National League Central Division crown.

But I am ready to stop arguing about it. If the Birds are better than some of us think they are, it’s time to prove it on the field and stop debating about it. I’m tired of hearing breathless predictions that Jake Arrieta, Greg Holland, Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer are going to end up wearing the Birds on the Bat. Once the players report to camp, it’s time to go into battle with the guys the Cardinals have on the roster.

This has been the most frustrating winter I can remember. I’m tired of talking about money and birth dates, statistics and whether or not it makes sense for the Birds to try to improve themselves. I want to talk about stretching doubles into triples, fastballs on the corner of the plate, stolen bases and outfielders running down balls in the gap. The commissioner seems bent on damaging the game by artificially shortening it with silly rules like adding pitch clocks, limiting the number and length of visits to the mound and putting a runner on second base to start the frame in extra innings. Can’t they just play ball and put the business aside for a while?