From the simmering Hot Stove to the water-cooler arguments about MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year to all of the administrative inner workings that make terms like arbitration, Rule 5 and non-tender part of our annual hardball lexicon, it's all in play once again.
Here's a post-World Series, pre-Thanksgiving primer of important dates and events to get you through the next three-months-plus until those magical three words: pitchers and catchers.
Today through Nov. 19: Free-agency filing period, which began with the last out of the World Series and lasts for 15 days.
The most intriguing starters on the list include John Lackey, Ben Sheets, Erik Bedard, 22-year-old Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, Rich Harden, Randy Johnson, Jarrod Washburn and Randy Wolf.
The best hitters could include Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu and Carlos Delgado, and there will be plenty of bullpen arms available too, with Mike Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, Fernando Rodney, Rafael Soriano, Jose Valverde, Billy Wagner and Octavio Dotel on the list.
Nov. 9-11: General Managers Meetings, Chicago
While administrative pow-wows will be held behind closed doors in smoke-free rooms, these meetings can offer high Hot Stove drama in the form of free-agent posturing, GMs making it known that players are on the trade market, and, yes, potential rules alterations. The continued criticism of umpires' calls throughout the 2009 postseason could lead to more discussions about the use of instant replay.
Meanwhile, the newest members of the GM club, Toronto's 32-year-old Alex Anthopoulos and San Diego's 35-year-old Jed Hoyer, will say hello to their big league peers.
Nov. 11-24: It's hardware time, from the Rawlings Gold Glove announcements to the Silver Slugger Awards in a special hour-long telecast on the MLB Network on Nov. 12 to the daily parade of Baseball Writers' Association of America honors commemorating the best and brightest of 2009.
Be on the lookout for the hardware to be given out for AL and NL Rookie of the Year Awards (Nov. 16), AL Cy Young Award (Nov. 17), AL and NL Manager of the Year Awards (Nov. 18) and NL Cy Young Award (Nov. 19).
The procession will be capped off by the two biggies, AL Most Valuable Player Award (Nov. 23) and NL MVP Award (Nov. 24), with Minnesota's Joe Mauer and St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols being the prohibitive favorites.
Nov. 18-19: Owners meetings in Chicago.
Nov. 20: Deadline for clubs to file Minor League and Major League reserve lists -- players protected from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
Nov. 30: The executive board of the players union holds its annual meeting, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Dec. 1: Deadline for clubs to offer salary arbitration to their ranked free agents, who then will have six days to decide whether to accept or decline.
Most of these moves are designed to make sure clubs are compensated with draft picks when they lose players classified as "A" or "B" free agents. However, if a player accepts the offer of arbitration, the club has to keep the player, although this usually does not happen.
Dec. 7: Deadline for free agents to accept their 2009 clubs' arbitration offer. Last year, the only two players to accept the offer were Darren Oliver (from the Angels) and David Weathers (Reds).
Dec. 7-10: Winter Meetings, Indianapolis
Gentlemen, start your dealing. Teams will descend on the heartland of America and the home of the world's most famous auto race to get the wheels of winter progress rolling.
The Indiana Convention Center will be teeming with agents, front-office executives, media members, managers, vendors and job-seekers, and the results could be high-profile free-agent signings, trades, or a lot of rumors that may or may not eventually pan out as the winter progresses.
Also on tap in Indy will be the announcement of the latest voting results by the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee and the Dec. 10 Rule 5 Draft. For the bargain-basement price of $50,000, (half of which is refundable if the drafted player is not on the season-opening 25-man roster), astute GMs might just score a player in the mold of Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton or Shane Victorino, all of whom were Rule 5 selections.
Early December: Hall of Fame balloting.
Voting-eligible members of the BBWAA receive the mailed ballots for 2010 induction. Newcomers to the ballot should include Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez.
Dec. 12: Deadline to offer contracts to rostered players.
Players not tendered contracts join the free-agent party. Bargains can be had here, too. The Boston Red Sox picked up David Ortiz in the winter following the 2002 season after he had been non-tendered by the Twins.
Jan. 5-15: Filing period for players eligible for salary arbitration.
Jan. 6: Announcement of Hall of Fame election results.
Mid-January: Owners meetings in Phoenix area.
Jan. 19: Players and management representatives formally exchange salary figures filed for arbitration.
This is where most of the deals usually get done, with employers not particularly looking forward to explaining to their employees why they shouldn't get a raise, and players not necessarily wanting to hear it, either.
Feb. 1-21: Salary arbitration hearings, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Don't expect a ton of these. Last winter, 111 players filed but only three -- Shawn Hill of Washington, Dan Uggla of Florida and Dioner Navarro of Tampa Bay -- went to hearings, which tied the previous low set in 2005. For the record, the players went 2-1.
Feb. 2-7: Caribbean Series held at Estadio Nueva Esparta in Porlamar, Margarita Island, Venezuela.
Defending champion Venezuela will defend its title on its home turf in the annual double round-robin tournament, which also features the best of the Winter Leagues from Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Look for plenty of Major League players to stock up these clubs as they play for national pride.
Mid-Febuary: Spring Training reporting dates, beginning with pitchers and catchers.
After a robust Spring Training schedule in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues in Arizona and Florida, another Major League season will start, with 30 teams full of boundless hope.
So if the going gets tough over the holidays, just dump a couple extra marshmallows in the hot cocoa, think about the sound of ball against bat and the smell of the fresh-cut green grass, and smile.
Heck, it's already November.