Spring ? Not Yet

February 20, 1994

No one who has lived in Maryland very long will put away the snow shovel and de-icing chemicals at the first balmy weekend in February. Not even with the news of an equally welcome harbinger of spring -- Orioles pitchers warming up in sunny Sarasota, Fla.

We have experienced too many Marches that not only came in like lions but exited that way, too. Still, it's delightful to shuck the hat, heavy gloves and extra layer of clothing, even briefly.

Statistically this may not turn out to be our worst winter, but in terms of almost universal discomfort it will be hard to beat -- even if we don't get any more snow, sleet and/or freezing rain before baseball's April 4 Opening Day at Camden Yards (and some of those home-openers in early April have been known to be pretty frigid).

Old-timers have to hark back to the late '50s -- when the city (there weren't many suburbs to speak of then) was incapable of handling even a heavy snow storm -- to recall the Baltimore metropolitan area as paralyzed as it has been in recent weeks.

Clearing the streets after the storms this year hasn't been enough; the mounds that stayed frozen along the curbs until this weekend inhibited parking and crossing the block. And then there are the side streets that are thawing out only now -- not to mention the isolated suburban developments where patches of ice still remain.

Yet the thought of baseball pitchers on the mound will send many out onto soggy lawns and parks to toss a few around themselves. It won't do the sod any good, but it will do wonders for the community's collective psyche. Hope springs eternal in this part of the baseball calendar. Especially after the active recruiting season by the Orioles this winter under its new, local ownership. We're ready to play ball -- even if we risk the wrath of Mother Nature. But baseball won't arrive here for another six weeks, and for good reason. You can't steal second base in a foot of snow.

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