There is no baseball, no real, meaningful baseball for another 44 days. But the dead zone of the sports calendar has quickened considerably by the advent of spring training. Camps in Arizona and Florida stir to life, as co-workers who haven't seen each other since September get back together for some stretching.
It's a time of guys being out of shape, guys in the best shapes of their lives, out-of-shape guys saying they're in the best shapes of their lives, and all the weird spring training stories that emerge from what's basically a subtropical non-competitive sports sleepaway camp. Like when a bird dropped a fish on Nationals practice yesterday.
Ian Desmond, fish and wildlife expert, says it was an osprey that lost hold of a recent catch, a crappie, and dropped it in shallow center field. Practice screeched to a halt so a bunch of grown men could go huddle around and stare at a dead fish, until Desmond took it upon himself to fling the crappie over the fence. But not in time to save Denard Span, who still sounds really shaken by the whole thing:
"That's another reason why I was kind of squealing a little bit," he explained to The Post's Brad Horn. "I kept thinking, that's his dinner. That's his food. As I was looking down at the fish, I didn't want him to think that I was trying to take his dinner and have the bird come from behind me or come from the sky and try to attack me. I kept my head on a swivel and made sure the bird didn't catch me slipping."
"I'm from Florida, but I've been fishing maybe twice in my life, he said. "I'm scared of fish, scared of birds. The only thing I'm not scared of is probably, like, an ant or something like that. I don't know what it is. I don't like to get my hands dirty, other than clay and dirt."
Denard Span being scared of fish and birds pales in comparison to Eric Berry's sheer terror when it comes to horses, but it will do for mid-February. Spring training! Where everyone is tied for first and animals fall from the sky.