Back In The Swing Of Things: Baseball Spring Training
It’s that time of the year again: baseball spring training. Fresh cut grass, the crack of the bat and the clay infields are all prepared for the season. No matter where you live, if you’re a baseball fan this is the best time of the year. Think about it like this: There won’t be another Sunday without baseball until October.
What is Baseball Spring Training?
In short, baseball spring training are the games and practices that come before the regular season in Major League Baseball.
For the veterans, this means time to get the gears going again after the winter off-season.
For guys coming out of college or other leagues, it gives them a chance to prove themselves and others that they deserve a chance in the league with a team.
Spring training has been going on for a few weeks and will end a week before opening day.
There are two leagues, one in Arizona and one in Florida. For the most part, teams compete in the league that makes sense for them geographically.
Here are how the teams are set up by league:
Grapefruit League in Florida
- Atlanta Braves
- Baltimore Orioles
- Boston Red Sox
- Detroit Tigers
- Houston Astros
- Miami Marlins
- Minnesota Twins
- New York Mets
- New York Yankees
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Washington Nationals
Cactus League in Arizona
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Chicago Cubs
- Chicago White Sox
- Cincinnati Reds
- Cleveland Indians
- Colorado Rockies
- Kansas City Royals
- Los Angeles Angels
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Oakland Athletics
- San Diego Padres
- San Francisco Giants
- Seattle Mariners
- Texas Rangers
History of Baseball Spring Training
Let’s take a look at some of the historical facts and how it came to be the pre-season we know today:
- Started around the year 1900.
- Arkansas is considered the birthplace of baseball spring training.
- Teams held spring training in cities close to home during World War II so that they didn’t overuse the railroad system.
- The Chicago Cubs held spring training on the Catalina Island from the 1920s to the ‘40s.
- Asian teams have adapted baseball spring training to their cultures as well.
Importance Of Baseball Spring Training
So, what’s the big deal here? Why are so many people jumping to go see these baseball spring training games? There isn’t a simple answer to this question.
What it boils down to is this: Baseball fans are incredibly passionate and cannot wait to see their teams again when the season ends.
Like any other sport, you have a downtime where there is speculation about what could happen with your team’s front office or roster.
In extreme cases, like the Oakland Raiders, you could be wondering if your team will even remain in the same city as the previous year.
That speculation goes much further in baseball, however. Baseball is a very analytical game, and the fans enjoy looking at the numbers more than the average person. This makes it extremely interesting because you can look at how new up-and-comers are doing and see how tenured players are faring over the years.
If you’re a fan of a team who didn’t make the playoffs the previous year, you are probably very interested to see how your team improved over the offseason and how you are looking coming into this season. On the other side, teams who made the playoffs and/or won the World Series will be wondering if their teams can keep their level or improve enough to possibly win it.
World Baseball Classic 2017
So, what are the storylines going into this season?
Well, for one, the United States won the World Baseball Classic this Spring.
The World Baseball Classic is essentially the Olympics and World Cup smashed together for baseball. Every four years, 16 teams from around the world gather to play in the World Baseball Classic for the right to be crowned the best nation in the sport.
This was the first time the United States secured a win at the WBC. The only other time they came close was a 4th place finish in 2009. This means this was their first medal in the competition. Marcus Stroman was named MVP of the tournament, holding Puerto Rico hitless through six innings on their way to an 8-0 win.
New Season Prep
Chances are you’re probably not an MLB player. That’s fine, we weren’t expecting that. However, you may be wondering how spring training pertains to you.
What are some things to pay attention to and to get done during the spring?
First things first–make sure your equipment is up to date.
There is no better time to upgrade and test out new equipment than the spring. You may not even realize your equipment is old and outdated, and this is the perfect time to check over what you have and see what is out on the market.
Do you have the right accessories or training equipment? If not, stock up now.
Next, take a look at how you’re doing physically.
Are you where you want to be? Are you in a better or worse position athletically than you were in October?
If not, it might be time to push yourself even harder this spring to get yourself back to that level or even more fit than you were.
We have a guide to ease yourself into the grind of spring baseball. Hopefully you did some sort of training in the offseason, even if it was minimal. Either way, push yourself this spring and impress your teammates and coaches.
Extra training work is never a bad thing.
Lastly, watch the game!
This seems like such an obvious thing, but many athletes don’t do it. Watch videos online, see how you can improve your throwing, hitting and fielding.
There are tons of resources and tips out there, so take advantage of them! Not everything has to be about physically becoming better by practicing. Watching the game and improving your game sense and mentality is just as important as your physical attributes.
There’s no “right” way to handle baseball spring training, but as long as you listen to your coaches and actively seek to make yourself a better player, you should have no problem improving. Hard work pays off, and the right people are going to see that and take notice. These are the months that you should be putting in the most work, go out and do it!