When spring training camp finally opens, you know you have made it through another year, that your team really has a chance this season, and that life is still good -- as long as baseball games are close at hand.
Their center fielder introduced me to the beauty of an inside-the-park home run. Their submarine closer seemed to scrape his knuckles on the mound with every pitch. And one of their shortstops played with a toothpick dangling from his mouth.
In a time when baseball's reputation had been damaged by players posting statistically-fattening numbers and shattering long-standing records because of juiced-up cheaters, Derek Jeter managed to always play the game the right way while maintaining consistency throughout his career.
Coaches, scouts, GMs and fantasy baseball players are quickly changing their strategies to incorporate more player and team stats. Everyone is talking about it, everyone is embracing it, and everyone has seen the movie, Moneyball.
It is easy to look back and find players who perhaps had higher batting averages, or more stolen bases, or even have done more philanthropic work. But what Jeter leaves behind is his ability to do it all. He is the whole package.
You may be the type that forgoes a hot dog at the baseball game to fit in your suit the next day at the beach but in some cases a hot dog might not be the worst thing to put in your mouth if it keeps you from spewing out some discourteous words at your Little Leaguer's baseball game.
Yes, I know we have of the games left in the 2014 MLB regular season. But still, somebody has to predict who will taking home baseball's biggest awards by season's end (and who'd deserve these awards if the season ended today).