Count me among those who actually look forward to Manny’s annual Spring Training story. This year he’s gotta tend to his sick mom and/or be at a car show and/or, as has been reported nowhere but still deserves consideration, put the finishing touches on the Carlos Baerga robot.

Next year, it’ll be a wounded gazelle that needs some rehab. The year after that, he’ll have to be in Madrid to co-sign an auto loan for his cousin Pepe who’s just out of the clink and trying to straighten himself out, so can’t a guy just give a little something back to his family for chrissakes.

See, this is what makes Manny so much fun, at least in my opinion. Because once the season starts, we know what we’re getting. Big-ass home runs. Hits comin’ at ya like a bullet leaves a gun. RBIs by the truckload.

Predictable, really. Almost boring. But the Spring Training excuses. How he’s gonna top last year. How hot and bothered Edes & crew will get as they attempt to prove to us — using algebra, sliderules and fancy Powerpoint presentations — that Manny doesn’t deserve our adoration. That’s the stuff that keeps me coming back.

In a couple more years, his contract’s up. And he’ll probably be gone. And we won’t have to dedicate page after page of newspaper real estate and hour upon hour of precious radio airtime trying to chart his course to Spring Training.

And suddenly Spring Training will be all “Oh, there’s Timmy Wakefield with a sack of balls. And there’s Jon Papelbon with a new haircut. Hey, here comes Ortiz in his truck. Great. Yeah. And, yes, ma’am, I will have another Corona.”

And it’s gonna be boring as all f–k. And we’ll miss these days. Mark my words.