Baseball is back! (The Enquirer/Michael E. Keating)

Finally. The long, hard winter is over.

Baseball is back.

Reds pitchers and catchers officially report to spring training today, out in Goodyear, Arizona. There won’t be any games for a while, and the real competition for roster spots will not heat up for a few weeks. Dusty Baker won’t be mangling as many toothpicks just yet, and no one’s frustration with CoCo is going to bubble over. Players will be going through the motions, doing more stretching than you thought possible, and there may be a laugh or two. Pitchers will complain about the repetitive PFP drills, and Brandon Phillips will show up early with a big smile.

None of it makes a whit of difference to most fans.

You — the Nation — are decidedly not like most fans.

I know there won’t be any real news emerging from Goodyear; it’ll mostly be the same tripe the beatwriters are forced to vomit out every spring. Who cares? I love it, anyway.

This spring, things are going to be a bit cheerier in Reds camp, I would guess:

The Reds are coming off a winning season for the first time since 2000. Baker said that doesn’t necessarily change the focus of camp.

“Every year is different,” Baker said. “There are new challenges, new everything. The thing about it is it seems likes our division has gotten better, especially in the pitching department. It seems like everybody has gotten better in pitching. Our division is going to be tough.

“It’s got a chance to be one of the tougher ones.”

I don’t know whether the division is going to be particularly good, but the race should be tight and that’s a great thing for baseball fans.

This is going to be fun.