Today, the Red Sox are, in some small way, back.
While Sunday was technically the reporting date for pitchers and catchers, all that really meant for any players who had yet to check in was a pit stop at the facility before checking into their accommodations. Today, on the other hand, is the first official team workout. Today, the Red Sox are, one way or another, back to work.
The impact of this event is diminished somewhat by the fact that, yes, a good few of the Red Sox have been hanging around Fort Myers for a while now. These days "pitchers and catchers" sneaks up on you in more ways than one. Who can remember the first report of someone hanging around the facility with a personal trainer? Who can remember when that one player turned into three, or half a dozen, possibly even working with coaching staff from the team?
Really, what value is left in a day like today is largely symbolic. Yes, there are some newcomers who checked in yesterday. Quite a few, actually, it's safe to say. And yes, this is when the media coverage really ramps up. Fuzzy cellphone pictures will slowly give way to well-edited video reports and interviews. We'll actually be able to hear the ball hit the mitt, and eventually even mix some bats in there for good measure.
Still, the reality is that, for whatever reason, baseball season's false start seems to provide a longer wait than any other sport before the season begins. While we say it's baseball season once again, we still have a good ways to go before any real, meaningful baseball is played again. Hell, it's still ten days before they even get to the meaningless baseball. These next fifty days will linger and frustrate. Relief at the first spring training game will turn to torture during the twentieth.
But at the end of it all there will be baseball. Real, honest-to-God baseball. And hopefully better baseball than we saw last year, and a better story than we had two years past. There will be Red Sox in Fenway Park, and a gluttonous 162 game schedule. And for that, this fifty day wait is worth it.