Chicago Cubs superstar Ernie Banks once said (presumably when not “playing two”): “Spring training means flowers, people coming outdoors, sunshine, optimism, and baseball. Spring training is a time to think about being young again.”
I will admit that each time the gates of CenturyLink Sports Complex are opened anew in February, it’s almost as if I sense something, I presence I’ve not felt since...(last October).
For me, however, that presence tends to leave as quickly as it arrives. If the title of this post isn’t a dead-enough giveaway, I’m not the biggest fan of February/March baseball. Now I know, I know...this is where I shake my fist at the clouds and tell you all to get off my lawn. But in all seriousness, Spring Training really doesn’t “do it” for me, and here are three reasons why:
Spring Training Isn’t Needed
Back in the days before free agency made everyone rich and able to afford personal trainers all winter, spring training was actually required to whip players back to their “fighting shape” and teach them how to play baseball again. Babe Ruth’s trainer needed to slam a medicine ball into the Bambino’s gargantuan, hot-dog-and-booze-filled belly. What would the Philadelphia Athletics (not a typo) have done without re-learning that 1940s pitching required full arm-windmills before each pitch, that must be taught by an 83-year old man wearing a complete three piece suit.
Nowadays, though, guys like Bryce Harper show up to camp looking svelte and ready to step in the batter’s box from Day 1. Do we really need a month and a half of meaningless baseball to get the players ready to go?
Which brings me directly into my next point...
Spring Training Is A Tease
Okay, maybe not the biggest tease of my entire life (I’m still mad about this...I was in that theater expecting a Batman trailer, damnit!), but a bit of a taunt nonetheless. You see, I don’t watch baseball purely for the aesthetic value (for those who do, more power to you). I’m not the type who will see a random Little League game and pull the car over to watch. I need some “skin in the game”, if you will, in order to be completely engaged. Whether that be my years invested in MLB, my love for the Twins, or a family member involved, I need the games to mean something to garner my full attention.
Obviously, spring training games do not mean anything in the long term. While they are good for creating team chemistry and introducing the “new faces”, the whole thing really doesn’t become “real to me” until they run out of the dugout on Opening Day. That’s when I’m #allin.
This year, even that hop up the dugout steps may be difficult due to weather, and thus my third spring lament...
The “Weather Talk” Is Great...If You Are Present
Sometimes I feel like the main reason people attend spring training games is because of the beautiful weather. I cannot dispute the fact that one probably couldn’t find a more perfect climate for the national pastime than Florida in the pre-summer season. I’m sure it is indeed close to paradise sitting in the Hammond Stadium bleachers soaking up the sun.
But here’s the problem: I currently sit in Mankato, MN, with 10+ foot high snow drifts/piles on every side of me and a polar vortex that hasn’t allowed the mercury to rise more than a tick or two above freezing since about mid-January. I cannot bask in the warm breeze through my car radio, nor can I feel the tropical rays through my television (I only get a faint pulse of electromagnetic heat if I get real close to the screen).
Maybe this just means I need to take a trip to Fort Myers and experience the glory for myself someday, but as it stands now the perfect weather talk is cheap some 1,600 miles away.
So, where do we go from here? While some of the above material was satirical in nature, the fact does truly remain: I’m not a huge follower of spring training baseball, even for the hometown squad. I general fill these baseball and football-less months with my love of film, literature, and full-time online graduate school.
I’m curious, though, to know what you all think about Cactus and Grapefruit League baseball:
What are your thoughts on Spring Training?
This poll is closed
Zach, you are dead wrong...spring training really does it for me!
Zach, I tend to agree with you...spring training is just a tease for the real baseball to come.