Every year around this time (or a month and a half later outside Arizona and Florida) somebody writes about how he or she loves the smell of freshly cut grass.
It's supposed to signal the beginning of baseball season.
It's a tired cliche.
In Phoenix, the smell of grass is arguably a bigger deal than it is for any other market with an MLB team.
It means a whole heck of a lot of baseball is about to descend on a Valley without much naturally occurring grass that needs cut.
For those here who have grass allergies, though, spring training isn't a great time of the year.
This is why I leave the smell of freshly cut grass on the bench.
Maybe another manager would find a spot in the order for grass, but it just doesn't fit on my lineup card. We might see freshly cut grass in the seventh, wearing No. 64 like a Double-A prospect with a camp invite.
But it ain't starting.
Here are the nine spring training things that did make the cut:
1. CF Fresh Faces
Young prospects, full of upside and holes in their swings lead off the lineup. Speed is critical at the top of the order and nothing's faster than the hype train during a prospect's hot spring training.
2. 2B Being Outside
In the two-hole, you need a reliable bat. What's more reliable than March sunshine in Phoenix?
3. LF Ballpark Food
Now we're getting to the heart of the order, where we need some power. A ballpark bratwurst or hot dog is just the meat required for extra bases.
4. DH Free-Agency Signings*
These are the hired guns. Sure, they're not on cheap deals, but they're brought in for a reason: Fireworks. In recent years, we've seen Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano come over from Grapefruit League teams. Cano showed out in Arizona last year -- we'll see if he can match that production in 2017.
5. 1B He's Back
The stars belong in the middle of the order. Seeing Paul Goldschmidt, Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado for the first time since September brings instant pop to the lineup. That star power acts as an anchor for spring training, always a threat to go deep.
6. RF Optimistic Outlooks
Worst-to-first used to be a rarity. Now it's almost a given. In baseball more than any other sport, teams seem to believe at the start of the season that they can win it all, and they should. By mid-August, you could be 25 games back. But on Opening Day (and before), everyone's tied for first.
7. 3B Ballgame Beers
You can have a beer at a Suns or Coyotes game, but it's not the same as sitting in the sunshine, sipping on something tasty without a care in the world. A cold one might not bring the muscle, but on getaway day, it's almost always a hit.
8. C Old Timers
Last year was the final ride for Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs catcher David Ross. Recently, we've seen more and more players announce their final season before it begins. For AL players, it's likely the last time they'll play in the Phoenix area, and it's our last chance to see them.
9. SS New Hats
The flashy, eccentric hats we see each year are a lot of fun and good out on the field, but they don't really meaningfully contribute. Plus, they're only useful when the team's playing defense. I value their glove, but we'll just have them work to turn the lineup over.
*We assume an American League park to avoid a hole in the lineup