On Escaping the Demonic Nether Regions of the Off-Season...

Mola Ram is nowhere near as terrifying as the prospect of another 100 days without the Yankees...

I feel like Dr. Jones after Short Round takes him out of his trance in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." Like the off-season was essentially that hypnosis poison they made everyone gulp right before the heart-getting-ripped-out-chest hijinx ensued:

"They make me drink the blood of the Kali. Then I'll fall into the black sleep of the Kali Man. I'll be alive...but like a nightmare. You drink blood, you not wake up from nightmare."

That's what the last 105 days were like. A nightmare. A black sleep of baseball-less perdition.

And then Pitchers & Catchers Day rolled up with a fiery torch and brought me back to sublime consciousness.

On Wednesday, my coworkers were having a field with me, and I don't really blame them. I was galloping around the office in my Yankee zip-up and hat and beaming from ear to ear, deliriously happy and excited, like I'd just caught a bunch of frogs in the backyard to bring in for Show & Tell.

"She's just excited because it's Pitchers and Catchers Day," my buddy explained to someone. "And just so we're all clear, her skipping around the office is more exercise then what goes on down in Florida today. No games. No practice. Just people coming in and checking their names on a sign in sheet."

It's SYMBOLIC, though. I don't care if they all went down there to exchange tulip planting best practices secrets. At least they're all together again. The wolfpack of many is back.

When I was in 3rd grade, I did a report about the Life Cycle of the Red-Spotted Newt. Because I was 100% normal and that's a perfectly standard topic to write on. What. Anyways, they have these very specific life stages (which probably a lot of animals do, but I know nothing about since I went the "what will be the hardest to research on a Brittanica set" route) and I am at the land-dwelling stage of my season.

I spent some time messing around in the pond, but it was really all working up to baseball season where I could hop on a rock and take the game in.

So...you'd never tell a newt, "oh yeah, your red eft phase of your life is meaningless," so same applies to Yankee fans. But that's what I feel like right now, like the life cycle of baseball fans is sectioned out into Offseason, P&C Day, Spring Training, Regular Season, Playoffs. And we're out of the crap larvae stage finally.

How can that be meaningless? Yeah, I know. I understand. You don't need to pop your head in to remind me that "spring training doesn't count." Unless, of course, you're a Sux fan and just practicing for when the Yankees open the season with a sweep at Fenway. And then you've got the whole, "who even cares about regular season games anyway" mantra down pat.

First of all, everything that has to do with the Yankees means something. And for that matter, everything that has to do with baseball matters. Otherwise it wouldn't happen. If the playoffs were the only "real" games, the season would just start there. Second of all, Spring Training actually does mean something. It means that a whole new neatly delineated time frame of our year has begun. It's not like Restaurant Week. Or Summer. Or Christmas time. Or Spring semester. It's probably more along the lines of the whole 6 months of sun, 6 months of darkness thing that allegedly goes on in Alaska.

(And, boom, there it is. That's what I'm saying next time someone asks me why I own night vision goggles. It's a symbol of the patience and endurance that punctuates the wait for baseball.)

The season starting means more than the Yankees playing again. It means everything that goes along with it. It means a whole shift in lifestyle. I was thinking yesterday about how last year, I only bought whatever #27 was in the vending machine. I used to have the elevator stop at the 27th floor even though I got off at 9. No wearing red. No anything red. And every single time it was 2:22 or 4:44 or 11:11 etc, I wished for the Yankees to win the World Series.

Maybe those things aren't exactly life-altering, or even life-putting-a-dent-it-in, but it's a whole new calibration of priorities and focus. A whole new mindset. And it begins now. Like we're seeing a giant, awesome pirate ship. But instead of One Eyed Willie's rich stuff treasures of diamonds and rubies, it's filled with walkoffs and dings and comebacks and ridiculous plays at 1st and CC's fat.

Everything is right in the world again.

As Ed mentioned on Wednesday, I sent him a message at 7:35am wishing him a happy P&C Day. I never had gone to bed. I was too excited. That, and I had just finished painting my wall about 20 minutes prior. I don't know stuff about pitch location and VORP and most of the numbers populating Baseball-Reference.com.

When it comes down to it, I'm little more than a bumbling idiot with the YES Network and an internet connection. I spent the tail end of the offseason nightmare trying to create Yankee Stadium on my wall, because I was about to lose my mind. I felt like I was making a mix tape for a long-distance boyfriend, which is really just something chicks do to have an excuse to think about him for 90 minutes under the guise of accomplishing some productivity.

I spent about 120 hours measuring things and sketching and painting and playing with color swatches (because they're awesome)...and because I hated not thinking about baseball.

And now the wall is finished, I've developed some kind of miserable hacking cough from inhaling paint fumes for 2 straight weeks, I've been so tired the last 2 nights I never even made it to my bed from the couch, and I've effectively ensured never seeing one dime of my security deposit...but all this is dwarfed by the fact life as I know it just came back into full color, high def.

Here we are. Day 2.

As Kenny Powers tells hi loyal buddy Stevie Jakowski in Eastbound and Down, right before his big pitching showdown, "You came back for me."

To which Stevie replies, "No. I never really left."

(On a final note, my favorite two stories in the last 48 hours: 1.) Girardi announcing he will adjust the workload of his starters during Spring Training, after using a 3-man rotation in the playoffs. Although I admittedly think it would surpass the Dove Slaying as the funniest preseason moment ever if he had decreed he was going to stick with a 3-man rotation straight through Opening Day. 2.) Ben Affleck and Matt Damon breaking ground on their latest foray into Boston Man Love enterprises.)

Annnddd...we're back in business. Bring on the season!

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