The St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins will meet Monday for the defending champions' Grapefruit League opener, beginning the Cardinals' life without Albert Pujols in, pleasantly enough, the kind of game where he'd only take one at-bat anyway. Carlos Beltran makes his debut as designated hitter and Kyle Lohse gets the coveted Grapefruit League opening day start.
The Cardinals' two primary Spring Training competitions—between Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene, and Skip Schumaker at second base, and Bryan Anderson, Tony Cruz, and Koyie Hill at second catcher—will finally begin in earnest; it's also our first chance to see Mike Matheny manage, although I would remind anyone looking to extrapolate from his moves here that he won't normally bring Mark Hamilton in to pitch the ninth inning. Probably.
But mostly, it's our chance to listen to something that sounds like a baseball game and then peruse something that looks like a box score. It's been a long time, but baseball is finally not-really-but-kind-of-here. Get excited.