In his interview with reporters yesterday, Joe Girardi was asked to comment on the Yanks-Sox rivalry, and the fact that it’s been so prominent this off-season: “I think it’s what makes baseball great. Sometimes it’s nice to pull back and just be a fan and say, you know what, this is what makes our game so great. It never really stops. It never takes a break.” He’s right, and the traffic on this site bears him out. You might be surprised to learn that we’ve had more visitors here in each of the past few days than we did on any day of the postseason. Are we really more interested in the soap opera of off-season maneuvering than we are in the actual games that matter? I doubt it. My guess: the discussion here acts as something of a substitute or surrogate for the games we’re not watching. It’s also worth noting that hot stove talk is purely speculative, and this draws at both the strengths and weaknesses of the blog form. In absence of any concrete information, every post and every comment becomes a work of opinion. And we all love to air our own opinions, to find them affirmed and reaffirmed in a public forum. The ironic corollary to this situation is that the less we seem to know, the more entrenched and intense opinions become. We all think we’re right, and in the absence of any proof to the contrary, no opinion can be categorically refuted. And so the threads grow and grow and grow as we wait and wait and wait for something to happen. No other sport casts such a shadow on our imaginations; it’s why baseball’s literary canon far outpaces that of any other game. How long until pitchers and catchers report?