MLB Spring Training: The Most Beautiful Preseason in Sports
Preseason doesn’t matter in sports. Teams don’t play to win. Teams don’t play their starters as long as most sports fans prefer.
And worst of all; the preseason has no meaning.
Not in baseball. Not in mid-February and March. Not in Florida and Arizona.
For a month and a half, baseball fans from all over the land make the annual pilgrimage to these two beautiful states where they are sheltered from the Polar Vortex terrorizing the rest of the country, to watch the stars that they wouldn’t have otherwise seen in just their hometown.
In over a half century, Arizona has been baseball’s Mecca. Spring Training and Triple-A baseball has been prominent in the Old Pueblo from the 1940’s to last year when the Tucson Padres retreated to El Paso and the city became an MLS preseason destination.
The Cactus League enrich the Valley of the Sun with half of the MLB’s best, including the Arizona Diamondbacks. From Valentines Day to April Fools Day, fans have the opportunity to get close to the action unlike anywhere in pro sports. Autographs, pictures and maybe a little dialogue with some of your favorite players. Moments like that leave a lasting imprint on a fan and keep them hooked to the game for a lifetime.
During my first two years in college, I biked from campus to Hi Corbett Field to check out the Colorado Rockies. I ended up developing a friendship with Clint Barmes and from there was inspired to begin a career in sports media. To this day, the Rockies have a special place in my heart.
As far as the games go; what makes Spring Training any different compared to the other preseasons? The games still don’t count, the teams don’t keep their stars in throughout the game, they don’t try to win which means there’s no meaning. So how is it different?
It’s still baseball. It’s still our nation’s pastime and the national pastime can not be toned down due to a lack of stakes. Nothing can tone down the pitcher’s desire to throw the ball with all his might and the batter’s desire to turn that ball into a souvenir.
That’s what makes MLB Spring Training the most beautiful preseason in all of professional sports. Regardless of results, it’s another amazing day at the ballpark and everyone in attendance is a winner.
Five Rookies to Watch in the Cactus League
Archie Bradley may soon be ready to be the next D-backs workhorse ace. The 21-year-old is capable of averaging 200 innings per season and has velocity to rack up a high strikeout total.
Javier Beaz may be the next Cubs savior. Last year, the 21-year-old led the minors with 75 extra base hits and 111 RBIs while also hitting 37 home runs.
Billy Hamilton has been called on to be Cincinnati’s next leadoff man. His 155 stolen bases in 2012 is a minor league record and the 23-year-old is just getting faster. He stole 75 bases in Triple-A Louisville last year and might steal the stolen base title in the big leagues this year.
Yordano Ventura may turn out to be the Royals’ version of Aroldis Chapman. The 22-year-old righty has already clocked 101 MPH despite only being 5-11, 180 lbs.
Jimmy Nelson can help make the Milwaukee Brewers rotation the best in the NL Central this season. The 6-5, 245-pound 24-year-old finished last season with a 163/152 K/IP ratio and is capable of hurling 200 innings.