Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spring has sprung (well, spring training anyway)

I am aware of three certain things in life: death, taxes, and spring beginning in February.

All you "by the book" types can stick to your conventional calendars, which indicate this year's vernal equinox will be happening on Wednesday, March 20. However, I'll already be into a month of celebrating my favorite season of the year by then.

"Spring training is like a cat with nine lives.  A baseball player has X number of lives and each spring is the birth of a new life."
--Steve Garvey
 
"Spring training means flowers, people coming outdoors, sunshine, optimism, and baseball.  Spring training is a time to think about being young again."
--Ernie Banks

Such optimism expressed in the above quotes. To me, that is one of the best things about spring training. The aches, pains, injuries, and disappointments of the previous season are in the rear view mirror.. Every team is 0-0 in the win/loss column, and if you were able to interview anyone associated with baseball, almost every one, to a man, would tell you that "this year is the year."

"People who write about spring training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball."
 --Sandy Koufax

Throwing a baseball overhand is one of the most unnatural and violent acts one can do. Throwing that ball at a high velocity repeatedly over the course of a season, year in and year out, initiates a lot of stress and wear to an arm. Spring training is very necessary, especially for pitchers, to get back into a routine that will be their livelihood for 8 to 9 months of the year.

"They don't put spring training statistics on bubble gum cards."
  --Joe Carter

Thankfully, the hype of a young prospect who has never played above single-A can be tempered somewhat, even though said prospect is raking against major league pitching. Spring training statistics have to be taken with a grain of salt, especially since a majority of at-bats aren't coming against major league pitching, and a lot of pitchers aren't facing major league hitting. It's a time to separate the men from the boys, and the girls from the little girls, and spring games aren't an exact barometer of judging talent.

However, it does mean we are that much closer to the start of another regular season, a season where we live and die with our favorite team and player, root against the divisional rivals, appreciate the ending of long-time careers and hitch our wagon to the "next big thing" when it comes to prospects.

The smell of the fresh-cut grass. The crack of a bat crushing a ball over the left field wall. The pop of the first baseman's mitt after catching a throw from deep in the hole at short. The smiles of young and old, fans and players alike. The dash and hustle of a centerfielder covering copious amounts of ground to snag a gapper and save a double.

Just a few reasons why I love this game, and why baseball is and always will be my favorite sport, nay, pastime.

Until next time,

Ryan

2 comments:

  1. I went to Spring Training for the first time last year, and it was by far the best baseball experience of my life. There are no fair weather fans at Spring Training. They're all devoted to their teams and can't wait for the season to start. I went with my dad and brothers and we ended up talking baseball to everyone that we sat around.

    We made it a two day trip last year, but this year we're going to squeeze a day trip in while I'm in San Diego for a visit. Can't wait.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd like to go one day. I love the desert, so I would prefer Arizona, even though the politics are crazy, the teams are more boring and it's more expensive for and East Coaster, but let's face it:

    Florida sucks.

    ReplyDelete