Pitchers and catchers have begun reporting to their respective camps, which can only mean one thing: baseball is almost close to starting up again!
Pretty soon your favorite websites (like here!) and newspaper sports sections will be nothing but pictures of guys down in Florida and Arizona with every article being some variation of, “Player X is in the best shape of his life!”
But Spring Training is by far the best of the major sports preseasons, for a whole bunch of reasons.
Here are just some of the reasons why Spring Training is awesome.
Grass, signs of warmth!
Listen, I lived in Michigan and then Montana for a combined 28 years and right about this time is when you want to kill yourself because its been snowing non-stop since Thanksgiving. You look outside and it’s nothing but various shades of grey and white. It’s awful. But you see some spring training coverage and there’s green grass, palm trees, cacti, and just reminders that yes, warm weather is coming. It may not be soon, but dammit, it will get here eventually.
Sure we all know who the stars are and what number they are, but the real fun is in seeing guys wear goofy numbers that they probably will not continue to wear once (if) they reach the big leagues. Up above is Kris Bryant wearing 76. And who knows, maybe seeing that guy wearing a weird number will pay off down the line and you can impress your friends with that knowledge. “Well I saw ol’ Tommy Smith wearing 85 one Spring Training and now he leads the Mets in dingers!”
Again, it’s Spring Training, it slogs along after a while, and most of these are just shameless attempts to sell a few more hats than they would if they wore the ones they wear during the regular season. But some of these are legit fun! The Mariners one in the bottom left, the A’s one has an elephant on it! The Reds one will give your kids nightmares. Really, some of these are better than what the teams actually wear.
Old former superstars!
Every year some team (normally the A’s) sign some old former superstar player with the hopes of rekindling that magic for one season so that it either elevates them to greatness, or they can trade them for more assets. This year, Josh Hamilton is back with the Rangers. Will he make the team? Probably not. Will he even contribute to them at any point during the year? Most likely not. But damn if it’s not fun to see some 37-ish year old guy who was good a long time ago and remember how good they were. Then then go 1-for-5 with three strikeouts and you’re just sad.
Sadly, that is not a picture of the entire Yankees’ team dying after a poisonous gas leak on the field, but another great Spring Training tradition: pictures of players stretching/throwing. Nothing happens during Spring Training. You hope not to get hurt, take a few ABs off live pitching, and then you try to look busy while doing as little as possible. Nothing exemplifies that more than stretches and throwing. Work those hammies boys!
Remember how nothing happens at Spring Training? Well the players need something to do and want to come cross as likable, so this is the time when they sign the most autographs. Get to the game mildly early and you can usually get a few down the baselines. There is one rule to getting autographs, don’t be a dick and let kids go first. Unless you’re using a kid to get an autograph for your own collection, then fuck you.
Oh hell yeah, show me some big dongers that don’t mean anything. Seriously, bombs are the best part. Pitchers should be required to give up at least one home run every outing so fans go home happy.
Life may suck. You may not like our President. You may be at a job you hate that pays nothing (it me). And the weather sucks. But when Spring Training rolls around, you see that grass, you see all your favorite players are healthy and you start talking yourself into everything going right for your team. This is the year they all stay healthy. That top shortstop prospect is going to light the world on fire. The bullpen will finally be better. Your rival can’t possibly be as good as they were last year. Dammit, this is our year, everybody is 0-0, so why not us?
So yeah, baseball is almost back.
/looks outside and it’s 35 degrees and a mix of rain and freezing rain/