If you watch or listen to any sports shows about baseball, the constant argument in March is whether or not Spring Training matters. The answer is yes. Those quick games in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues do play an important role in the Regular Season, whether the pundits want to believe it or not.
Squads are determined during Spring Training. The sportscasters who get big bucks talking about the players may not find Spring Training to be worth their time, but the minor league players who are looking for a roster spot certainly do. These young men on the minor league teams appreciate being able to play wherever they can, but being invited to the Big Show is a life changing experience. From the receiving an increase in pay to playing in the big stadiums, minor leaguers want it all and Spring Training is their chance to hit it big - literally.
Pitches are practiced during Spring Training. The top pitchers in the league are always looking to add to their “stuff” and Spring Training provides the perfect opportunity to experiment. There is nothing like pitching against live hitters who can hit the ball out of the park. Since the Spring Training games do not count in the Regular Season statistics, pitchers can experiment with new pitches to see what works and at what velocity. A bad outing in Spring Training does not mean the pitcher is ill-prepared for the Regular Season; it could mean he is testing new pitches that are not ready for the Season.
Managers can play with lineups. Since the rosters on nearly every team change throughout the off-season, managers need to see who is best suited for what position. Most teams have hitters who are physically designed for certain batting positions, and that usually leaves a handful of positions that need a hitter. Unless the manager can play with the order during Spring Training, he will have no idea what he can do during the Season. Sabermetrics and analytics might offer some ideas, but it is difficult to judge until the lineup has had a chance to play.
Players build camaraderie. Baseball players spend more time together than players on any other athletic team. A rotten clubhouse can be the death of a team. Spring Training keeps players busy, but not so busy that they cannot form friendships around games of golf, visits to race tracks, and nights on the town. If you follow your favorite players on social media, you have seen them playing during their down time. With the travel that goes on during the Season, players do not have as much time for leisure as they do in March.
Teams get a gentle transition into the Regular Season. The players return to their clubhouses in March with hopes and dreams for the Regular Season. Their attitudes are fresh and they are ready to play. They have just enjoyed a long vacation, spending time with their loved ones. March gives them the time to transition from the life of exercise and leisure to the intensity that is baseball season. Without the transition, players would be subjected to the shock of the media, constant travel, and life in buses and hotels. The transition period keeps the human.
Fans get to enjoy the Boys of Summer at just the right time. Spring Training games provide great entertainment for a low price. The prices to the big league stadiums keep going up, but the Spring Training games are still affordable. Where else but Spring Training can you get close to the players for under $20 per person? Along with the low price, the games come at the perfect time. When people are sick and tired of winter, Spring Training games provide a glimmer of hope that winter will end and summer will come.
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