Time for Chocolate Hearts and Baseball

Today, February 14th, marks the arrival of Valentine’s Day.

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.

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.

Nothing says, "I love you" quite like a box of chocolates. Put those chocolates in a heart shaped box and she is putty in your hands. At least that is what the marketing people want us to believe.  photo R. Anderson

Nothing says, “I love you” quite like a box of chocolates. Put those chocolates in a heart shaped box and she is putty in your hands. At least that is what the marketing people want us to believe.
photo R. Anderson

Decades ago when I was a younger version of myself Valentine’s Day meant that we used construction paper and other means to make our  Valentine “mailbox” to stick at the end of our desks.

Once our mailboxes were completed we would go around and deliver valentine’s to each of our classmates.

After counting up the bounty one always hoped to not be like Charlie Brown, who was always 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.

Once in a while I will still have a coworker or two that will give out Valentines but as a rule my days of handing out mass Valentine greetings ended with my last construction paper mailbox.

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.

With up to 75 players vying for 40 roster spots Spring Training uniforms tend to use numbers more often seen on the football field. Photo R. Anderson

With up to 75 players vying for 40 roster spots Spring Training uniforms tend to use numbers more often seen on the football field.
Photo R. Anderson

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.

As for the Houston Astros, this year their roster is less wide open than it was this time last season.

While last season was an every position is up for grabs kind of year heading into Spring Training, there seems to be a bit more stability heading into Osceola County Stadium this spring.

The biggest competition for the Astros appears to be at first base where former start Brett Wallace will try once more to prove that he belongs on a Major League Baseball Opening Day roster.

Unlike previous years though Wallace will be trying to make the team as a non roster invitee having lost his coveted spot on the 40-man roster.

Across the other 29 Major League teams other players will be in similar positions of just trying to extend their careers for one more season.

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.

And with Valentine’s day behind us stores are quick to remind us that Easter is just around the corner as the chocolate hearts have been replaced on the shelves by chocolate bunnies. In some cases the chocolate bunnies were already up next to the display of chocolate covered Valentine strawberries.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to finish my Easter shopping before the Chocolate bunnies are replaced by Fourth of July decorations.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson