Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thoughts on Spring Training

So I, of course, subscribe to MLB.TV. Having recently finished my winter quarter at UC (one to go until graduation!), I now have ample time to loaf around in my Brewers boxers all day and watch/listen to ball. And, if the weather stays nice like it is, perhaps a few tailgates are in order.
I've never been a fan of preseason in any sport, but in the last couple of years I have to say ive been more and more turned on to Spring Training. It's great -- everybody has a role on the team for this month, as you can see from Mr. Met helping load bats onto the team truck. It's not like stupid NFL or NBA where theres really no mystery has to who makes the team, and it's really just a few extra games for TV time. There are always some surprise stories every year as to who will make the team, and everyone has a shot.
Last year we were all in awe of the Marlins, who collectively make less money than most of the Yankees' starting 9 make in one season, who took a bunch of no-namers like Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, and Josh Johnson to within a couple games of the Wild Card. Tons of young guys stepped up in spring training and earned available spots. This year, we have stories like the return of Sammy Sosa and Juan Gonzalez, the continued demise of Mark Prior, phenoms like Homer Bailey and "Dice-K" proving their worth, and for you Brewers fans out there, it looks like Carlos Villanueva has a legitimate chance of being that 5th starter in a rotation that looked to be all but concrete last month. And you know what, if these guys wearing offensive lineman numbers don't make the team this year, they'll be in the minors, and have another chance later in the season, and again next spring. Every game for every player is a chance to impress, and every moment counts. Spring Training is awesome because it's about baseball, and its how it should be. Everyone is excited about playing, the youngsters are learning, the veterans are fighting off people going after their jobs, and the crack of the bat is reminding fans everywhere that April is just around the corner. Spring Training is about the game, not about contracts or winning or 40000 seat stadiums, or even LaRussian strategy. It's about showing what you can do, gettin' at it, and just having fun in the backyards of Florida and Arizona. Once the trip is over, making it to an All-Star Game and some Cactus League games are definiitely two things on my (and I'm sure Erik's) to-do list.
I'd say that I only have one beef with Spring Training this year. What the hell is going on with the caps? (
Sorry, i dont' know how to do a hyperlink. But the garbage above the ears on the cap is ridiculous. Major League Baseball, please don't commercialize my innocent spring training.
Alright, I missed about 2 innings of the Marlins-Orioles game typing this, so that's it for now. In closing, I think that Lou Brown from the greatest baseball movie franchise of all time, Major League, summed up March baseball the best:
Rube: "Wow, Willie's really got some power now!"
Lou: "Off a guy who'll be bagging groceries in a couple weeks."

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