Cubs pitchers and catchers are in spring camp, White Sox pitchers and catchers report today, and the smell of baseball is in the air.
The stink of slogans, too.
Political candidates and baseball teams routinely employ advertising phrases to market themselves.
Mitt Romney: "Vote for me, I'm not Obama!"
Newt Gingrich: "Vote for me, I'm not Romney!"
Rick Santorum: "Vote for me, I'm not any of those goofs!"
Cubs: "Come see us, we're not the White Sox."
White Sox: "Come see us, we're not the Cubs!"
Kane County Cougars: "Come see us, we're not either of those local baseball goofs."
OK, those aren't actual slogans. However, the ones that baseball teams concoct can be just as silly and sometimes more misleading.
A year ago the Sox tried to foist the now famously infamous "All in" on an unsuspecting public.
What a crock. If the Sox were "All in," Comiskey Park would be in foreclosure today and Jerry Reinsdorf would be living in a cardboard box.
Sox fans weren't as gullible as Sox marketers thought or the club would have tricked more than two million customers into the ballpark.
This year ... yawn.
Sox: "Appreciate the Game." Cubs: "Baseball is better."
Spare us the exclamation points. Our baseball teams are either out of marketing ideas, out of competitive hope, or out of both.
Doesn't the Sox' slogan whisper, "Our lyrics stink, but they're easy to dance to"? Doesn't the Cubs' whisper, "We're ugly, but we have a great personality"?
When they're promoting the "Game" and "Baseball," the teams can't be too high on themselves, can they be?
The Cubs essentially are pleading for fans to visit Wrigley Field to see big-time "Baseball" players like Milwaukee's Ryan Braun if he isn't suspended for using performance enhancers.
Meanwhile, the Sox are pleading for fans to visit Comiskey Park to see the better-run teams in the "Game" like the Rangers and Angels.
What else could the Sox do, ask fans to drive to the South Side to see whether Adam Dunn's can raise his batting average above .160?
What else could the Cubs do, ask fans to take public transportation to the North Side to see whether Big Z took Alfonso Soriano with him?
The Sox' "Appreciate" slogan is based on something new manager Robin Ventura said. The Cubs' "Better" slogan is based on something new latest savior Theo Epstein said.
If the teams flipped their flops, the Cubs would have used new manager Dale Sveum's "no lollygagging" and the Sox would have used Williams' "we're rebuilding, but we're not rebuilding."
If the Sox and Cubs exercised truth in advertising, they could have used this slogan: "Come see how the sausage is made."
However, fans don't want to pay big bucks to watch how a baseball team or democracy is made. They want to see the finished product.
Unfortunately for Chicago, the sausage still is grilling on both sides of town.
Of course, Cubs fans likely still will go to Wrigley Field to form an opinion on whether Epstein is as adept at building an organization as advertised.
Sox fans likely won't go to Comiskey Park to form an opinion on whether Williams is more adept at building a roster than indications were the past few years.
Anyway, try this slogan: "Wait'll next year because this year isn't next year yet."