Oh man, I cannot wait until the end of March. Are you with me?
By George Kurtz
We have been watching Spring Training games for almost two weeks. Sure, it’s been fun to see the boys of summer playing again. We’re thinking about warm weather, beaches, barbecues, and baseball that matters. However, the novelty has worn off. The regular season, the games that count are still three weeks away. It’s like torture watching these games knowing this is the best we’re going to get for awhile. With that in mind, let’s take a look at nine other reasons why spring training sucks.
- How many no-name players can fit into one lineup? Teams can have 40-50 players in camp and they aren’t there as scenery, they are going to play. Now, I don’t mind seeing the top prospects but when a team travels you will be hard-pressed to know the names of half the players in the lineup. Yes, there is a rule in MLB that every team must have a certain number of true Major League players in the lineup on a road trip, but there are ways to get around that rule, and don’t even talk to me about when a team has a split squad game. I feel like we are seeing the hot dog vendor take an at-bat or two during those games. It’s like watching the fourth preseason game in the NFL.
- Risk of injury: It’s much worse in the NFL, but as a fan of a certain team, we still don’t want our players to get injured during a meaningless game. I don’t know about you, but I cringe whenever I see a batter get HBP, especially anywhere near his hands. Ian Desmond’s first season in Colorado may have been derailed last year because of this exact scenario. The MVP of spring training last year, (yeah I know, not a thing), Greg Bird, fouled a ball off of his foot in the last few days of ST and it took months and a surgery before he fully recovered. How about the inevitable muscle pulls by players running the bases or sore arms by pitchers? All we can do is cross our fingers and say a prayer that the injury isn’t of the serious variety.
- Same colored uniform tops: I’m currently watching two games right now. The Braves at the Yankees and the Red Sox at the Cardinals. In both games, the teams are wearing the same or similar colored uniform tops. This is about as pleasing to the eye as a big pile of, let’s say dirt. I know it’s spring training but is it so hard to make sure this doesn’t happen? The Yankees like to wear their dark colored tops at home during some spring training games. Fine, how about asking the Braves to wear white, or maybe only wear the dark colored tops when you aren’t playing a team whose road tops are the same damn color. It’s so much fun watching a play at a base where you have 17 guys who all look the same.
- Games can end in a tie: It’s sports, there needs to be a winner and a loser (ask Bud Selig). I don’t care if it’s spring training, pre-season, or a backyard cornhole contest. I want to see someone win. You have 25 pitchers in camp, how can’t you have enough pitchers to finish a game? I hate the idea of having a runner placed on second base to start an extra inning, but in a spring training game I wouldn’t be against it, but for the love of everything holy, not in a game that matters.
- Playing the same teams over and over again: Among the Yankees’ first seven games so far this spring, five of those games were against Detroit and Philadelphia. Can we get some different teams in here please? I know, there aren’t 29 other teams to choose from, especially since a few abandoned Florida for Arizona some years back, but still, a little diversity wouldn’t hurt. Some of this is the Yankees fault as they don’t want to play the Mets, Red Sox, or Rays that often for financial or competitive reasons. This is pure Steinbrenner logic. Spring training games are a bore anyway, but line up a few more games versus the Sox or Mets and more eyeballs will be tuned in to watch. Fans are crazy, they will be all for bragging rights, even if it’s just a spring training game. It might be the best the Mets can do this season. As for the Rays, that’s just silly. It’s because the Rays play their home games in Tampa and that’s where the Yankees host spring training. Are the Yanks really worried about the Rays stealing fans?
- Optimism abounds: I think if makes me physically ill each time I hear a player tell the media what a big year he’s going to have or that he is in the best shape of his career. I mean, what are they supposed to say? No, I ate everything in sight this offseason. Haven’t picked up a bat or thrown a ball since September? Hanley Ramirez stated recently that he was going to be a 30/30 player this season. He actually told the reporter to write it down. He’s hit 30 or more HRs twice in his career, but hasn’t stolen 30-plus bases since 2010. So yeah, sure, go to Vegas and plunk down some cash on that happening.
- Statistics are overrated: Who cares if a certain player has the most HRs in March? I mean really, what does it matter? He could’ve been facing nothing but Double-A pitching. It’s even worse if they hit the majority of those bombs in early March. Does that mean they will be cold heading into the regular season? Maybe I’m just a pessimist. I’m also a conspiracy theorist. How often have we seen a player run like mad in ST, just so he can make the team, and then never steal a base when it counts? Just get your work in and stay healthy.
- Those of us who live up north are jealous: Once again it’s all about me. I live on Long Island. While I wouldn’t call this a brutal winter, it certainly hasn’t been pleasant either. Today is my anniversary, it’s also been pouring all day with flooding everywhere. I just love when my family, who are all in the Tampa Bay area, send me photos and texts of how nice it is down there. Hell, the gold medal winning women’s hockey team is staying at the resort my cousin works at and if he isn’t telling me how well he played at the golf course, he’s telling me how heavy a gold medal is. Screw you Bob.
- I actually feel compelled to record these games: I don’t know why. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I will record a Yankees game if I’m not around to watch it or if there is a certain player I want to see (I do the same for football). I need help. March 29 can’t come soon enough.
Alex Trebek: “Spring Training Baseball in Florida is known as this league.”
Contestant: “What is the Bush League?”
Trebek (questioning life): “No.” pic.twitter.com/HKlvI6Dxck
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) March 8, 2018