In much of the country, March portends spring (although not so much this year). In my home state of Minnesota, March is miserable. It is Punxsutawney Phil’s revenge—for what, I don’t know, but every year there’s six more weeks of winter, and then six more after that. While my cousins in the South enjoyed azaleas we were showered with 4 more inches of snow. Even the most stolid Scandinavians in the state start itching for some green grass, an outboard motor, and a walleye pond by mid-March.
Minnesota’s late winter sports scene can be as bleak as the weather. When I was growing up there, we usually were just starting to recover from a smarting end to a Vikings season. The Timberwolves were terrible, vying for a lottery pick instead of a playoff spot. Pro hockey abandoned us when the North Stars moved to Dallas. Sure, we had Golden Gophers hockey and the annual high school tournament (a hidden jewel among American sporting events), but those were winter sports, promising nothing of sunshine and happiness.
As a kid, though, I looked forward to one thing about March: the mythical, mystical, wondrous event called “spring training.” I didn’t know what “spring” was since Minnesota didn’t have one, but I knew it meant baseball. Not real, official baseball—that came in April—but the promise of baseball.
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