Pitchers and catchers report

It's finally that time again!

The smell of freshly-cut grass, hot dogs and pine tar is finally upon us.

It’s been a long winter (OK, it seems like it’s been a much shorter winter as temperatures seemed to struggle to dip below 60 degrees, and hardly anyone has seen much snow) and we’re all ready for some baseball. Summer nights at the ballpark are definitely therapeutic, and I can’t wait to get back to Turner Field to watch the Braves.

The images take us back to our childhood — playing little-league ball, possibly even playing for your high school or college. Sunflower seeds, the ground-rule double and seeing an outfielder make a diving catch.

I know you’re smiling by now.

College basketball may still have my attention and football may be the nation’s new passion, but there are so many things about baseball that can’t be matched by other sports. There is nothing like Spring Training, and when your team is in a pennant race, it’s so much fun to be a part of the game.

Over the next couple of days, all 30 Major League franchises will be reporting to camp, preparing for the upcoming six-month season. Many diehard fans will make the pilgrimage to Florida or Arizona to scout their new squad and hopefully score an autograph from their favorite player.

There will be many new faces in new places, and that will take some getting used to. But no matter how long it takes to learn the new names, numbers and batting stances, the feeling of being at the ballpark will return immediately.

It might have even returned just reading this. I hope it has, because it’s returning to me just by typing this.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to make a hot dog.

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