Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kicking the tires

I love spring training. First, because it’s the end of a very long dry spell for baseball fans. Yeah, MLB gives us the winter meetings and then those are followed by various free agent signings and trades, but it soon becomes something akin to throwing crumbs to a starving person (unless your team signs Albert Pujols or something). When February finally rolls around, we’re all really ready for something meaningful to happen, teams as well as fans.

If you’re a fan of a particular team, you’ve probably listened to all the news from them over the off season. Since their marketing departments never have an off season, you know that this will be a good year because a) “we’re finally ready to compete”, b) “we’ve fine-tuned the team and expect to be in the post-season once again”, or c) “out rebuilding efforts are going to make this team really exciting to watch this season”. Or some such sales talk like that.

But second, I also love spring training because you finally get to see your team’s 40-man roster in action. You can begin to make a more accurate assessment of what their potential is for the upcoming season, see if you’ve been given a hollow sales pitch or have gotten the straight gen. Sure, everyone says that spring training records don’t mean a thing once the starting bell rings in April, but if you’re a savvy ball fan you can begin to assess where the team’s strengths and weaknesses really are.

One fond wish I’ve had for many years is to go down to spring training. February and March are pretty gloomy up here north of the 49th, and a little Florida sunshine would go down pretty easily. But I think it would be fantastic to be down there, see the Jays of course, and also visit some of the other teams’ ballparks to see where they’re at. You know, play “advance scout” a bit and kick the tires on the forthcoming baseball season, not having to rely on the baseball pundits, but on my own two eyes.

So starting next week, we get to find what just may happen once baseball hits April. I can’t wait, even if I can’t be down south.

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