Suspended between the grind of winter contract negotiations and the tension of summer pennant races, spring training is a brief respite when the pressure is off, the weather is fine, players are approachable and even Cubs fans can have hope. The magic of this liminal period is captured in this lavishly illustrated homage. Sportswriter Shaughnessy, author of The Curse of the Bambino, recounts the history of spring training, referees the vicious Arizona-Florida rivalry, provides unnecessary information about spring training stadia, and generally soaks up atmosphere (""Touch the players. See them sweat. Hear them swear."") Awash in trivia and replete with anecdote upon aimless anecdote about springs past, his prose is as slow and meandering as the play-by-play for a game that doesn't count. Reminiscences by baseball stars and writers like Roger Angell and Stephen King round out the text. Half of the book is taken up with a vibrant photo essay by Stan Grossfeld, which captures the relaxed feel of the training camps with pictures of ball players stretching, squatting, sunning themselves, gawking at girls and occasionally playing ball. Fans will enjoy this glimpse into the brief yearly interlude when baseball really is a game.