Ah, the first week of February, sports' fallow season. The ending of the Super Bowl signals with abrupt finality the closing of football's long chapter. College basketball toils through its mid-season conference battles, still more than a month from the bedlam of March Madness' opening weekend. The NBA pops its head out, sees its shadow, and goes back underground until June, and the NHL allegedly continues its regular season.
In this time of respite and gloom, ladies and gentlemen, the whispers begin in earnest. Three words, only two of consequence, that signal rebirth and renewal, and hopes springing eternal (if your team of choice isn't based in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, or Miami, in which case hopes grunt, roll over, and go back to sleep). Pitchers and catchers, my friends. Pitchers and catchers. In the case of the Sox, those magic words signal a deadline only 12 days hence.