The professional baseball season, and everything that goes along with it, isnâ€™t all that far away.
Weâ€™re already a week into the high school spring sports season, the fields are all clean and manicured and the teams are all in early-season form.
And while Iâ€™m sure that all of the local basketball teams that made the playoffs wish the hoops season would have lasted a couple of more weeks, every day of basketball, to a baseball fan, is just 24 hours closer to opening day.
Even though I witnessed several tremendous high school basketball games this year (the Southern Piedmont Conference tournament championship game between Lincolnton and Highland Tech and the last time East Lincoln and North Lincoln met during the regular season come to mind) itâ€™s nice to be able to slow down for a moment before getting into a serious baseball habit.
Iâ€™ve watched two regular-season baseball games and two scrimmages so far, and I plan on hitting up a softball game this afternoon. All of the spring sports have one important, glorious characteristic in common:
Theyâ€™re all played outdoors.
I can only take sitting in a gym for four hours each night before I get a little squirrely. If winter hadnâ€™t all but passed us by this year, I may have been more receptive to getting a brief respite from the cold.
As it was, the only time I saw snow was hunting up in the mountains, and just yesterday I started getting my fishing tackle together.
It just feels right that sports should be played outdoors. The basketball game that was played on the aircraft carrier at the beginning of the season â€”that was a brilliant idea.
Now, I know March Madness hasnâ€™t even started yet, and Iâ€™m definitely one of the college basketball fans who pays attention to the big games during the regular season and then keeps up with the tournament.
But thereâ€™s no getting around that, while March Madness is going on, the spring training games for baseball are under way.
While looking up information on the spring-training games, some of which Iâ€™m hoping will be televised, I was reminded of the George Carlin sketch on the differences between baseball and football. Any sports organization that calls its spring training groupings the Cactus League and the Grapefruit League is alright with me.
The point is that baseball is a lighthearted sport, which is part of the reason itâ€™s the national pastime, and not the national sport.
Although the players and fans take it seriously, and itâ€™s serious as a business, thereâ€™s something farcical about it. Thereâ€™s not a whole lot of room for showboating.
And thatâ€™s what makes it great.
Michael Gebelein is a sports writer with the Lincoln Times-News.