Winter-weary baseball fans used to thrill to the call "pitchers and catchers report."
But as the Super Bowl, Winter Olympics and the NBA dominate the sports universe, spring might not arrive for baseball fans.
The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams clash in the Super Bowl on the day before Valentine's Day. The big game for years was played in January, and then pushed further and further into February. If this continues, March Madness will succumb to the Super Bowl.
Once, February was a sports dead zone, brightened by the start of spring training. Ballplayers playing catch in the Florida sunshine gave hope that winter would soon be gone.
Now, constant Super Bowl buzz will mark Groundhog Day. Fans will have to whip up care about the NBA regular season and NHL games, now shown and relentlessly hyped on ESPN. And, fans will have to foster instant love for some figure skater and ski champion.
As all of these circuses divert our attention from inflation, Putin's Ukraine takeover and Sarah Palin dating a former hockey star, baseball owners and players are embroiled in a labor lockout.
Baseball's already sinking in popularity. As the NFL playoffs show their dramatic intensity in contrast to interminable baseball games, the rich baseball players and owners remain stuck in a morass of greed.
For baseball fans, spring seems far away.