Every year at this time my thoughts turn to Arizona and Florida, where pitchers and catchers report this week for spring training.

But this year, I am really ready to join them.

I wouldn't mind trading places with my in-laws.

My mother- and father-in-law spend parts of the winter in Arizona, but have never taken in a spring training game.

I know you're aghast, too. They will have to come to terms with that some day.

As I bundle up every time I go outside and trek through snow and ice, it seems hard to imagine this interminable winter will ever end.

But I can take some solace in the fact that when baseball players migrate to warmer climbs, there is hope for the rest of the country.

Until temperatures make that steady climb to respectability and the sun makes a regular appearance, all I have is warm thoughts.

I feel like Mother Nature is taunting us by giving Vancouver, British Columbus, 50-degree temperatures for the Olympics while we sit in a deep freeze.

They have sun and slush, and we have cold and wind. The Winter Olympics should not be a place to get a tan.

The calendar says spring is March 20, but when I look outside it seems like we will be lucky if it gets here by April 20.

Until then, I will warm my hands by the glow of the television and MLB Network that will send back reports from spring training to me.

Baseball, like spring, is a time for optimism and hope.

Every year I am optimistic my Oakland A's will win more games than they lose, and I am hopeful they will win their division and make the playoffs.

A friend tells me I need to lower my expectations, but then again he's a Royals fan with every reason to have lower expectations.

I have turned into more of a Royals fan than he is, which speaks to how bad the Royals have become and his lack of interest.

When it comes to baseball, I have a very short memory. Last year's problems, I'm sure, will be fixed this year. There will be no injuries, and every player will turn into an all-star.

My son, Alek, on the other hand, raised to be an A's fan, referred to last year's squad as an old man's softball team. Doubt he's much more optimistic about the 2010 team.

My blind optimism has not swayed him.

I still believe good things will happen and that every off-season trade and signing will be the best and smartest move any team made.

Alek thinks things will stay the same.

I am the one who loses sleep over losses, and he is the one who catches the scores the next day on ESPN.

While a 4-3 Wednesday afternoon win against Toronto can make my day, the only games he gets emotionally attached to is the ones in which he plays.

He probably has it right. Doubt he'll ever lose his voice screaming at the game on TV or on the computer screen.

It is taking all of my effort to get excited about spring training when snow and cold are all around me.

So far, spring has come every year, followed by summer. I hope this isn't the year everything changes.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.