After a long, action-packed offseason, baseball is officially back. Well, kind of. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training this week, but we are still almost two months away from meaningful baseball games. This week we are debating whether spring training is worth watching, or if it’s a waste of time.
I feel the same way about spring training as I do about preseason football and basketball. It’s terrible and nothing but a tease. I see people getting all excited about players reporting to spring training, and I’m tempted to transition into baseball mode. But then I remember that spring training sucks and it’s not real baseball. All that happens are practices for the first couple of weeks, so you can see Gerrit Cole in shorts and a T-shirt throwing 60% off a bullpen mound. Yippee! Or you can see footage of Cody Bellinger taking soft toss in the cages. Must-watch TV am I right?
No, spring training is brutal. It’s even worse than other sports’ preseasons because it lasts forever. Players report at the beginning of February, but the season doesn’t start until the end of March at the earliest. The spring training games are boring as hell too. The starters barely play, and when they do, they’re not really trying. It’s basically a bunch of scrimmages that I have absolutely zero interest in watching. The only marginally interesting part is seeing the guys on the roster bubble competing for the last few spots, but in my opinion, that doesn’t make spring training worth actually watching. I’ll find out on Opening Day who made the team.
Spring Training is great, partially because it means so little. It is your first glimpse at a baseball player, outside of boring press conferences, for five months. No matter what team you root for there is always the possibility of a fresh season on the horizon. For the good teams, it gives fans a chance to look at the future of their franchise once their stars move on. For the bad ones, it gives you hope for the franchise around the corner.
I feel like your argument is simply that players of a lesser caliber are not worth watching because they don’t get paid as much or they may be working toward the Majors. I disagree, I think those players are what makes baseball great. They are grinding away every day trying to be better, putting in the work to reach new heights.
I have nothing against the hopeful big leaguers. I respect their grind as much as anyone. They’re the only people that spring training really matters for. I do enjoy the stories that come out during the spring about the journeys that players have been on who have a chance at finally making a major-league roster. But as far as actually watching the games? I’ll pass. I’d rather watch college basketball, NBA basketball, college hockey, NHL hockey or even XFL games that actually mean something than a bunch of glorified scrimmages. From a media standpoint, spring training is when some of the best stories come out, which I will read. But you won’t catch me watching a second of the exhibition games. Wake me up when March ends.
I can see why you wouldn’t want to watch the games because they are “glorified scrimmages,” but honestly that’s one of the most appealing parts about it for me. I love how free it is; the games really don’t matter so teams can experiment and have fun playing baseball. As a fan of the game, nothing draws me into the game more than when it feels like the people playing are having a great time doing it. I love seeing a team start to come together and form their identity. That starts in spring training. I love watching the college teams get to play their local MLB franchises at the very start of the spring. I love seeing players like Bobby Dalbec and Sam Travis hit tanks and light their fandoms on fire for a month at a time, even if they don’t have a clear shot at the roster. Spring training is like a whole season of low-commitment baseball, where all players care about is getting in their work and putting on a show. It’s some of my favorite baseball to watch.