Tomorrow, February 14th, marks the arrival of Valentine’s Day. Odds are if you are reading this on Wednesday, and not Thursday, it may not be too late to get that last minute gift for friends and loved ones alike. If you procrastinated and are reading this after the 14th, than at least you have a head start on getting your gifts for next year.
While it is often joked about that Valentine’s Day is a made up holiday by greeting card companies, candy companies and florists, there is actually a historical reason behind St. Valentine’s Day. While the actual origin story varies depending on who is telling it, one common version is that the day is based on one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus, or Valentine to you and me.
The common legend goes that Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. While imprisoned, legend goes on to state that Valentine befriended the daughter of his jailer and before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her. How much of that really happened, and how much was added throughout the centuries as the tale was told and told again, is certainly up for debate. After all, legends tend to grow the further out they are from the source material. But as far as legends go I guess if one were so romantically inclined there are worse things to believe in. Just don’t get me started on that flying arrow shooting guy.
So whether the origin totally occurred as written or not the celebrations were tweaked through the generations and flourished during the romantic period as one might expect until at long last we reached the 21st century version of St. Valentine’s Day.
In school classrooms across the country tomorrow, students will hand out their valentines to each other. Decades ago when I was a younger version of myself we used construction paper and other means to make our “mailbox” and then go around and deliver valentine’s to each of the classmates. After counting up the bounty one always hoped to not be like Charlie Brown and be valentine free but to have a paper box brimming with tiny cardboard trinkets of affection. As a rule I always made sure to have enough cards to go around for everyone in the class, but it seemed like not everyone followed that rule. I am guessing the process still remains mostly the same as from when I was in school based on the amount of valentine’s cards I see at the stores each year, but who knows, maybe students just text each other their well wishes now.
Aside from the greeting card and valentine printing businesses, this season also marks a busy time for businesses that sell flowers and chocolate as they tend to be part of the more grown up valentine experience. Turn on the television or radio any time between mid-January to mid-February and one is bound to be bombarded with commercials for suggestions on what makes the perfect valentine’s gift for that special someone.
While the romantic aspects of Valentine’s Day are all well and good, the season also marks a time for professional baseball players to await messages of “Be Mine” and “I Choo Choo Choose You” as competition begins for one of those coveted spots on the 40 man Major League roster.
Much like those cardboard valentines of old, a spot on the roster says to the player that someone values them and in this case values them enough that they have a future with the club. Of course, roster placement alone does not guarantee success and several factors are involved in the aspect of who stays and goes from a major league roster. But, the fact remains that players on the roster tend to feel better about their future than players who are not on the roster.
For most teams the roster is mostly set at the start of spring training with a few positions here and there up for grabs through head to head competition. One team however is taking a decidedly different approach to the roster process as they are in full blown rebuilding mode and no position seems set in stone.
That team is the Houston Astros whose process of selecting their “valentines” begins at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, FL.
Perhaps no other team in baseball has as many open competitions going as the Astros do. With no clear identifiable stars on the roster, and a trade at will philosophy, one would be hard pressed to discern with any certainty who will comprise the opening day roster.
Plus, even if a player is fortunate enough to suit up on opening day there is no guarantee that they will finish the season in that position. Over the past few seasons the Astros have had so much turmoil on the roster that very few players from the opening day roster remain the following season. I really see no reason to think that the trend will be any different this year.
While catchers and pitchers have already reported, the rest of the team still has a few days before camp, and competition, starts for them. Over the next month and half or so players on the bubble will try to show management why they are deserving of one of those precious roster spots.
So as you celebrate your Valentine’s Day, in whatever manner you see fit, think of the baseball players who at this very moment are hanging their virtual Valentine mailbox on their lockers at spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona.
For some the mailbox will contain that invitation to join the club. For others the valentine will bring bitter rejection and the prospect of waiting to try again next year.
Unlike in elementary school where the teacher tried to make sure everybody received at least one valentine, there are bound to be a lot of people feeling like Charlie Brown waiting at the mailbox for a valentine from the Little Red-Haired Girl in the coming weeks.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if I still remember how to make an old fashioned valentine mailbox. I am bound to have some construction paper and paste around here somewhere.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson