As a baseball fan, spring is for my Detroit Tigers preparing for the new baseball season.
The one time I did pay some attention to the WBC, in 2009, I was really just watching what was going on with team Puerto Rico.
Why should I care about how the Puerto Rico team was doing?
It's simple, Pudge Rodriguez.
I've told the story before, how my wife fell in love with the former Detroit Tigers catcher.
Here I go.
Please indulge me as I look back.
In early 2005, when my wife and I were first dating, she would cook dinner at her apartment and bring it to my apartment.
Yes, I was, am, still, not a good cook.
Back then my cooking as a bachelor was Bubba Burgers and macaroni and cheese.
On one occasion when she was over I had a Tigers game on TV, and as she was walking to the kitchen she heard Tigers play by play guy, Mario Impemba say...
"...and that brings "Pudge Rodriguez" to the plate."
Now, for me, and every other baseball fan watching the game, we just heard that Pudge Rodriguez was about to come to the plate and hit.
What she heard was "Pudge" AND NOTHING ELSE.
She didn't know much about baseball, just what I had told her in the few months we had been together.
When she heard Impemba say "Pudge" she thought he was making a derogatory statement about his statue, his body figure.
I explained to her that the term "Pudge" was a badge of honor, going back to Carlton "Pudge" Fisk, the Hall of Fame catcher of the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox.
After my explanation of the name, in an instant, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriquez gained a lifetime fan.
I had, in a span of five minuets, created a new baseball fan, a new Tigers fan.
So, fast forward to 2009 as we plan our trip to Lakeland, Florida, the spring home of the Tigers.
One day in Orlando at Downtown Disney, the next watching the Tigers play.
The 2009 WBC was going on, and it looked as if team Puerto Rico was going to spoil our trip.
Then, the day we woke up in Lakeland we learned that Puerto Rico has lost, and that Pudge will play today for the Tigers.
The smile on my wife's face was priceless.
The game was terrific, a huge crowd was in attendance, and when Pudge ran out onto the field at Joker Marchant Stadium, the applause was tremendous.
My wife loved to watch the Tigers with me...when Pudge came to the plate.
She would stop anything she was doing to watch him hit.
Her smile that first time she saw Pudge reminded me of how I must have looked the first time I saw my baseball hero, Bill Freelhan, play at Tiger Stadium in the late 1960s.
When I told her Pudge in going to play for another team, and not the Tigers, she was devastated.
All she knew about baseball was myself, the Detroit Tigers, and Pudge Rodriguez.
On of the best things I've ever had happen to me was when Pudge Rodriguez followed be back on Twitter last year.
If you are on Twitter, follow Pudge Rodriguez, he's a pretty darn good guy.
Also, if your a Tigers fan, Mario Impemba is also on Twitter.
My wife still likes to watch the Tigers with me, only now it's Justin Verlander pitching, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitting.
This year I hope to watch more of the WBC, especially when the USA team is playing, and I'll be cheering on the Red, White, and Blue.
Every time I hear a score, or see a highlight from a Puerto Rico WBC team game, I'll think back to that spring in 2009, and the smile on my wife's face when she saw Pudge Rodriguez.