Baseball is back!
Well, sort of. Spring Training baseball is back. And while it doesn’t have the same intensity or emotional verve as regular season baseball, there are a few things that make spring baseball both beautiful and patently absurd
The Beautiful Absurdity of “This One (Doesn’t) Count”
“Hey Scott, what are you watching?”
“Baseball! Dodgers and Cubs.”
“I didn’t think the season started until next month.”
“So then these games don’t matter?”
“Well, it’s important to watch the games, see whether the veterans are coming back healthy, get a look at the new signings, keep an eye on some of the younger prospects, get a feel for the vibe of the team going into the season…”
“You have a problem.”
The Beautiful Absurdity of Under-Average Joes
During the season, baseball rosters include 26 players (up from 25 last season), and there are only 40 players on the extended roster. Each player gets their own number (obviously). The guys on the 40-man roster don’t just get the numbers 1-40, due to retired jerseys, player preferences, etc., but most of them use numbers in the single digits or low double digits.
In spring training, nearly everyone in the team’s farm system starts at big league camp, meaning the equipment staff is working overtime getting numbers onto jerseys. Suddenly we don’t just need nos. 1-40 — now, we’ve got some Single-A pitcher wearing no. 87 striking out a utility infield prospect sporting no. 72. Sometimes there’s not even enough equipment to go around:
But hey, you’re an avid baseball fan, so you know all these prospects getting their first taste of big-league baseball, right?
The Beautiful Absurdity of Broadcaster Futility
No. No you don’t. I only say that because the broadcasters, the professionals who get paid to know all about these teams, don’t know them either.
And that’s fine — there are a lot of players in each farm system! And since spring training is about getting players reps to get them ready for the season, managers are constantly making substitutions. By the end of the fifth inning, most broadcasters just rip up their scorecard and start pontificating about the merits of bunting against the shift.
The Beautiful Absurdity of Tim Tebow, “Professional” Baseball Player
Yep, there he is!
The Beautiful Absurdity of Warm Weather
Yes, we all know it’s warm in Fort Lauderdale and Sunrise. But for those of us stuck in the north, buried under six feet of snow and swaddled underneath seven winter coats and a Snuggie, spring training is a harbinger of warm sunny days and clear blue skies.
Until then, keep mixing the hot cocoa and pass me that snow shovel.
The Beautiful Absurdity of Lawn Seats
We all dream of getting seats right behind home plate. They’re the best seats in the house, especially if (like me) you love watching the movement on the pitches as they barrel towards home plate. But if you want to release your inner child, there’s nothing better than putting down the picnic basket and popping a squat on the outfield lawn. Lawn seats are somewhat incongruous with the steel artistry that defines modern baseball stadiums, but they’re perfect for the laid-back atmosphere around the training fields in Florida and Arizona.
The Beautiful Absurdity of Hope
I know the games don’t matter. I know the results are meaningless, and that the best players on every team are only trying to get ready for the season, not trying to win. I know that spring training records have absolutely no correlation whatsoever to regular season success.
But damn it, the Detroit Tigers are undefeated this spring, and if Victor Reyes can start to hit, and if Miguel Cabrera can recapture his form from a few years ago, and if Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning, and Casey Mize can make it to the majors, then maybe, just maybe…
Scott is the guy you see at the ballpark with a loaded hot dog in one hand and a marked-up scorecard in the other. He’s been following baseball since 2006, when his beloved Tigers made the World Series. Scott is an expert in baseball film trivia, a connoisseur of ballpark food, and a firm believer that pitchers should have to bat (I’m looking at you, Bartolo Colon).