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November 14, 2012
The Lineup Card
Seven Ways to Get Your Off-Season Baseball Fix
1. Shopping for My Daughter's First Baseball Glove
2. Winter Baseball
The 2013 Caribbean Series will be played in Hermosillo, Mexico, and the plan is to play at a new facility named Sonara Estadio, which is scheduled for completion in time for the event. Famed Hector Espino Stadium would be the fallback option. Venezuela's Margarita Island will host the event in 2014, which is already on my calendar.
I strongly suggest that you follow winter baseball for the next couple months, as box scores are easily acquired, while games are available on the Internet and ESPN. Then you should seriously consider attending the Caribbean Series, an event that I have attended many times. It is a unique, must-see celebration of baseball that you will never forget.—Dan Evans
3. Catching Up on Prospects
Also, I keep tabs on the performance of those playing in fall and winter leagues. The Arizona Fall League understandably gets most of the attention amongst these leagues, but a number of potential future big-leaguers are playing in the Caribbean Winter Leagues as well. Finally, I enjoy reading about trade rumors involving prospects and trying to make sense of blockbuster deals (such as Tuesday's mega-deal) that ultimately come to fruition. —Josh Shepardson
4. Doing Historical Research
When I was writing books about the Padres, I always made a point of including chapters on the club's history. Sometimes they would be more recent, such as a recollection of the 1998 season or Tony Gwynn's 3000th hit. Other times they would go back further and examine, say, the best players by position in team history or the franchise's inaugural 1969 campaign.
As with any other research, I typically start with a question: What if the Rangers had taken Eddie Murray, Robin Yount, or Dave Winfield with the first pick in 1973 instead of David Clyde? Or if the Pirates had taken Mike Mussina in 1987 instead of Mark Merchant? What were some of the worst pitching seasons ever? (Matt Keough's 1982 says hello.) Was Cameron Drew seriously considered a better prospect than Craig Biggio? How might the Padres have fared had they signed Tim Raines as a free agent during the collusion era, or signed Todd Helton out of high school when they drafted him?
And sometimes it's just as simple as wanting to know more about the men that have played the game over the years. A voice that nags at me: People should know about Heinie Zimmerman, Spud Davis, or one of my all-time favorites, Max Bishop. Studying these people and their accomplishments keeps me connected to baseball while I wait for games to return. It is no substitute for fresh air and the crack of a wooden bat, but it beats the available alternatives. —Geoff Young
5. Catching Up on Baseball Books
6. There's Only One Cure for Off-Season Blues
7. R&R&R: Read, Research, and Recharge
The winter we're just starting to slog through is the refractory period that follows the climactic end of the season. Since this is a family site, I won't take that metaphor much further, but the point is that the time we take now to recharge and reflect makes the next seven-month marathon possible. It's no substitute for new games, but it brings its own sense of satisfaction. It's when we discover things we don't know about the season we just saw, since there are never enough hours to see everything. It's when we focus on metafandom, catch up (or keep up) with the year's most brilliant baseball writing, and assess the implications of each move teams make. It's when we hear about Boras booklets and sources with knowledge of the negotiations and players' quests to be in the best shape of their lives. Immerse yourself in enough of the stuff surrounding the season, and you might find that by the time withdrawal really starts to set in, real baseball will be just about back again. —Ben Lindbergh