I love the beginning of spring training for numerous reasons. The most obvious reason being that pitchers and catchers reporting signals a symbolic beginning to the end of the perilous Minnesota winter.
What else I love about spring training? The ifs.
...Francisco Liriano returns to anywhere near his 2006 form, the Twins will have one of the best rotations in baseball.
...J.J. Hardy can solidify the defense at SS and bounce back offensively, the Twins will have a presence in the infield, as well as one of the deepest lineups in the league.
...Jose Mijares doesn't eat a small child...well, okay, that's really not realistic.
...Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain, Clay Condrey, Matt Guerrier, Pat Neshek, and whomever else can handle the late innings leading up to Nathan, the Twins will have one of the deepest bullpens in baseball.
...Joe Nathan doesn't self-destruct, the Twins will actually win a playoff series.
...Nick Punto learns what the fuck a stop sign is, my remote might actually survive an entire Twins season.
...Joe Mauer somehow relives his seemingly unmatchable 2009, the Twins will have the most potent offense in baseball. (Yes, including the Yankees.)
...I don't get tickets to opening day at Target Field, I will shank someone and steal theirs.
...Delmon Young, Denard Span, and Michael Cuddyer can somehow cover enough ground in the outfield, the Twins as defensively minded team will actually seem true again.
...Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Nick Blackburn can step up and realize that they aren't actually young pitchers anymore, and prove ready to help lead a pitching staff, I will put the Twins rotation up against any in the league.
...everyone on the roster actually "battle's their tale off," maybe Ron Gardenhire will stop speaking only in cliches.
...Jim Thome can provide a stabilizing influence in the clubhouse, and provide a solid bench of the bat/DH, the Twins will have found one of the biggest things they have been missing the last few years.
If all this things happen? Well it is hard to imagine this won't be the most successful Twins season in recent memory.
There is a reason they are ifs, of course, and there is an infinite list of them. How many come true remains to be seen, but it's the speculation that makes spring training that much more fun.
Got any more ifs? Lets see them in the comments section.