It seems like every time Spring Training rolls around, I have to defend my position on the warmup season and the exhibition games. Too many fans blow this time off as something with little significance, paying no attention to how their team does. That’s a mistake. as Spring Training absolutely matters.
OK, I get it; the spring scores, stats and records have no bearing on who plays in October. Having said that, it drives me absolutely insane when I hear fans say, “What difference does it make? Pay no attention, these games don’t matter!” Um, yes they do, Skippy, but you have to be a different level fan to know that.
The most ironic part about most fans’ point of view, is that the same people often want to boast about a player doing well in spring. Don’t be a hypocrite. If you can’t critique the bad, then you can’t acknowledge the good – after all, you just said none of this matters.
Try selling that philosophy to a pitcher, playing in camp as a non-roster invite. His career has slipped to the point that nobody really wants to sign him, but some team finally offers a slim chance at a roster spot. Often times, there will be 30 pitchers in camp, so playing time is scarce. Each time that guy takes the mound, may be his last unless he performs. I’d venture to say it matters quite a bit to him.
What about the struggling, young major-leaguer who still has minor-league options left? Let’s say that after batting .229 last year, he waltzes into camp with a new approach at the plate. Through the first handful of games, he goes 5 for 7 at the plate, with a home run, stolen base and 4 RBIs. Wouldn’t you think that matters to him? I’ll guarantee that it does, and you can be sure the manager and coaches notice it too.
What about the bounceback candidates, the low-level free agent signings, and the minor-leaguers who get invited to camp? Every at-bat, every pitch, every missed attempt at a ground ball – those all matter.
Decisions to be Made
Aside from the players, these games matter a ton to managers. They have about 30 days each spring to sort through rosters of 60+ players, trying to determine which of the “extras” are going to fill valuable holes on his 26-man roster.
Managers can’t overwork guys in camp, or they risk burnout or injury. The skippers walk a constant tightrope between properly resting players in February, while trying to get everyone enough playing time to form decisions. Overuse a reliever in spring training, and you might just short yourself a valuable arm for the regular season. Don’t give a player that one extra appearance and you may cut a guy who was about to give you an incredible season.
It’s fine that fans don’t pay a lot of attention to every game in late February and early March. Most aren’t televised, and you’ll often see lopsided scores. It’s not about whether your team wins or loses, but rather, it’s about how that occurs. Pay attention, folks, MLB Spring Training matters.
One last thought: I’ll bet Spring Training matters to this kid…
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!
Check out our partners at Repp Sports! They offer the first-ever crowd-sourced, no carb, no sugar, energy drink called RAZE and much more! Use the link above or add the promo code OTH1 for 30% off at checkout!