Its been an emotional week if you follow the Cleveland Guardians.
Indians/Guardians super-fan and drummer John Adams was laid to rest on Saturday in a procession that saw hundreds fill the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist to pay their respects. Adams was a Cleveland baseball icon known by countless fans and as his funeral suggests, loved by many. I personally credit Adams, along with radio voice Tom Hamilton, as being Cleveland’s soundtrack to the summer for 30+ years. Adams, in particular, had showed up to the ball yard every day for an even longer 46 years, starting in 1973, in order to echo his booming drum for some of the Cleveland baseball’s greatest (and honestly, bleakest) moments. He leaves me with one very specific positive memory that initially has nothing to do with baseball at all:
There’s something I just love about driving around on a warm summer night with the windows down. The earth has cooled a little from a hotter day. The breeze is pleasant. The bugs are chirping. The world isn’t dead quiet, but it’s more peaceful. And often, the radio is on with Tom Hamilton on the call and John Adams’s drum thumping in the background as Cleveland mounts a rally. I did this with my dad as a kid. I did it as a young adult with my friends. I do it now with my wife. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. What it really is, is home. This space already makes a great statement about Mr. Adams earlier this week that you should also check out, but I felt the need to say my peace. I want to thank Mr. Adams for doing his part to be not just the soundtrack to summer, but the soundtrack to my home. Thank you. You will be missed.
Still, life continues. The world keeps turning. And while that can definitely be somber. It’s not all bad. It’s early February. The days are starting to get longer. The temperatures have started to get warmer. We may actually see the sun for more than five minutes at a time within the next few weeks. More seriously, spring is coming, and with that comes life. While we may not hear John Adams in the flesh in a few months, the summer’s soundtrack (with his recording) will continue on. Better days are ahead.
And as a baseball fan, the first indication of what’s to come was the team equipment trucks rolling out of Progressive Field on Friday on their way to Goodyear, Arizona for Spring Training. Summer, with all its happy memories that have happened and are to come, draws closer.
The pilgrimage to Goodyear is the first domino to fall in a line that will lead us to Opening Day. 2023 also brings the return of the World Baseball Classic (one of my favorite events). I mention it here because players participating in the Classic will be reporting to camp a few days early. Unfortunately, MLB hasn’t released comprehensive rosters for the 20 teams that will be competing, so it is not yet fully known which Guardians may be involved. It seems logical that some of the team’s best: Jose Ramirez, Andres Gimenez (committed to playing for Venezuela), and Emmanuel Clase will be playing. We also know with certainty that Josh Naylor will not suit up for Team Canada citing a desire to play it safe with his surgically repaired leg from 2021. Either way, pitchers involved in the WBC report to their team camp on February 13th (that’s basically a week away!) with position players doing the same on the 16th. Non-WBC players are expected to report on the 17th.
From there, the first full-team workout happens on the 21st with Cactus League play beginning against cross-complex and cross-state rival Cincinnati on the 25th. The next month will bring position battles, live looks at prospects against a variety of levels of competition and the chance for a first glimpse at new additions like Josh Bell and Mike Zunino. March will include players breaking off for the WBC, which begins on March 8th though the western hemisphere-centric part of the bracket starts a few days later. Interestingly, the 8th is also the date that the Guardians exhibition against Team Mexico as our friends to our southern border tune-up for the tournament. The Classic concludes on March 21st. The month closes out with a trip to the Diamondbacks’ home for a couple of tune-up games in the Major League facility that is Chase Field on the 27th and 28th before the games begin to count come March 30th in Seattle.
Guys, it’s not that far off. The truck wheels have been sent in motion. And while we say goodbye to Mr. Adams, the time has come to begin saying hello to another summer of baseball memories.