By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Spring will officially arrive later this week.
But for the hardcore baseball fans among us — a group I include myself in — it’s been spring since mid-February.
Spring training, that is.
For baseball fans, hope springs eternal each spring — especially for fans of less successful franchises like my San Diego Padres.
My Padres have two National League pennants to their name in more than 40 years of trying — and one World Series game victory in nine tries.
Over the years, it hasn’t always been easy to root for the Friars.
But growing up in San Diego, it was the natural thing to do — I certainly wasn’t going to root for the Dodgers, after all.
Except for the two NL championships, there wasn’t much to get excited about over the years — except for the Hall of Fame career of one Tony Gwynn.
One of my favorite baseball memories is being in the stands July 19, 1982 when Gwynn collected his first big league hit after being called up from Triple-A Hawaii.
It was the first of 3,141 hits over an illustrious career — and getting to see that first one has always been a special memory for me.
Hey, a Padre fan doesn’t have any World Series titles to crow about at the sports bar. We have to go McGyver if we want anything resembling bragging rights.
Former closer Trevor Hoffman is another Padre treasure.
He closed his career as the all-time saves leader, a distinction he held very briefly before being eclipsed by Mariano Rivera of Satan’s Team — otherwise known as the New York Yankees.
Hoffman, like Gwynn, was a guy who used his natural talents and played the game the right way.
When his time comes for Hall of Fame consideration, I hope he gets in sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, as another season approaches, it’s a chance for the focus to return to the field, where it belongs.
The offseason is about billionaires and millionaires wrangling over money, and sadly, lately it’s been about which player is the latest to get his hand caught in the cookie jar of performance-enhancing drugs.
This year’s complete snubbing of a number of steroid-era players by the BBWWA should be a message to young players just coming up through the minors.
Cheating is wrong, whether you get caught or not.
But there are players who aren’t getting the message.
Baseball needs to continue cracking down on those players who continue to roll the dice and hope they won’t get caught in the narrow net of random testing.
Baseball fans shell out a lot of money these days to see the product on the field.
They have a right to expect that product to be produced without any artificial enhancements.
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 533-2151, ext. 325 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.