Spring training, that unreachable wintertime oasis, seems so much closer on this side of January 1. Suddenly, we're just one flip of the calendar page away from baseball, and just two away from the beginning of the season. We know that you, like us, are counting the days, so here's a helpful countdown primer for the 2013 season.
... 7 days until the first stops on the Twins Winter Caravan.
... 16 days until Liam Hendriks and Cole De Vries, who must share a car with Bert Blyeven, ride all the way from Baldwin, WI to Winona with the windows down, despite outside temperatures in the single digits.
... 18 days until the beginning of TwinsFest.
... 19 days until a tired and disoriented Terry Ryan, speaking to fans at TwinsFest, slips up and uses the term "giant sack of crap" in reference to his team.
... 36 days until pitchers and catchers report.
... 38 days until someone publishes a "Has Marriage Changed Joe Mauer's Batting Stroke?" post on a Twins blog.
... 44 days until everyone but players in the World Baseball Classic has to report to spring training.
... 45 days until the first players pull out of the World Baseball Classic because of hangnails, runny noses, and once-in-a-lifetime tee times.
... 50 days until the first "Kevin Correia is in the best shape of his life" story in the newspaper.
... 54 days until the first games of the World Baseball Classic.
... 55 days until the United States is somehow already out of the WBC.
... 70 days until Japan plays Korea for the World Baseball Classic title.
... 74 days until Francisco Liriano strikes out seven in a spring training start, causing fans in Pittsburgh to get their hopes up only to later see them bewilderingly crushed again and again by wasted start after wasted start
... 83 days until the season opener between Texas and Houston.
... 83 days until the Astros are mathematically eliminated from the AL West playoff race.
... 84 days until Brian Dozier leads all league shortstops in errors.
... 120 days until someone within the Twins organization says, not in jest but in desperation, "Well, maybe Nick Blackburn can stabilize this rotation."
... 155 days until Ron Gardenhire is openly drinking during post-game interviews.
... 167 days until the Twins send Kevin Correia to the bullpen to "get his head right."
... 204 days until the team trades Josh Willingham for two low-level prospects.
... 217 days until Target Field sees its first crowd of under 15,000 fans.
... and 266 days until this season is over and we can all start looking forward to what we're really excited for:
... 449 days until the 2014 season starts and the Twins might be good again.