Baseball fans rejoice as spring training begins

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As soon as the sun comes out and the snow starts melting, my thoughts turn to baseball.

It’s hard to focus on the Winter Olympics in Sochi — emphasis on “Winter” — when it’s a balmy 40 degrees here in Champaign.

Maybe it’s a bad thing that many Americans are focusing on preseason baseball instead of a monumental international sporting competition, but remember: Baseball is America’s pastime.

It’s a big part of our cultural history, and fans see it as more of a national tradition than ice dancing, curling or luge. Though to be fair, curling is oddly fascinating.

Wednesday was the first full workout for the Chicago Cubs, and Thursday marks the first for the White Sox.

And while the players are soaking up the rays in sunny Arizona, we dream of summer days at the ballpark. Especially now that Wrigley offers Giordano’s Pizza. 

And who knows, maybe that’s just the inspiration the Cubs need to break .500 for the first time since the 2009 season. Pizza conquers all, right? 

Chicago is in desperate need of a pick-me-up after the Bears abysmal season and the disappointing loss of Derrick Rose to a second knee injury. 

The Blackhawks are a constant bright spot in an otherwise bleak year for The Windy City.

But what are the chances baseball matters in Chicago this year?

While I pride myself on my optimism, it’s hard to believe in teams that consistently underachieve year after year.

But hey, it’s 2014. The whole goat curse thing happened almost 70 years ago. Maybe it’s over. Maybe the baseball gods have decided to smile once more over Wrigley Field.

Weirder things have happened. After all, Russia was just eliminated from the Olympics in hockey while playing on home ice. Finland must be pretty pleased with themselves right about now.

And every time I drive past U.S. Cellular Field and see the 2005 World Series banner, I have this moment like, “Oh yeah! We’re good at baseball!” And then I remember that 2005 was nine years ago and I feel depressed and old.

The Cubs will play their first spring game in their new Mesa, Ariz., ballpark Feb. 27 against the Diamondbacks. 

The Cactus League, which consists of 15 Major League teams including the Cubs and White Sox, plays consistently throughout the next couple of months, with their final games coming at the end of March. 

Spring training gets everyone thinking about baseball, but it never feels real until opening day, until the sun is shining and you can sit on the bleachers with a hotdog — or Giordano’s — in your hand.

But until then, we wait. And maybe watch curling.

Aryn is a senior in LAS. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @arynbraun.