Amazing to think baseball’s off-season is already coming to an end. It seems like only yesterday the Chicago Cubs were being showered with a mix of champagne and tears of joy after winning their first World Series title in 108 years. A franchise, especially as storied as the Cubs, shouldn’t have to wait that long between championships.
But here we are, on the cusp of yet another spring training and regular season. I’m 49 years old now and I still like to tell people that I’ve experienced just as many spring trainings as I have years on Earth. There’s never been a spring training lull in my lifetime. Of course, it started with my father and it’s carried on into my professional broadcasting career. There’s always something special about getting ready for an upcoming season and it all begins with spring training.
I’ve done some hardcore research over the years and while Baseball Prospectus probably wouldn’t be able to quantify my results, I’ve decided to divide our annual treks to Florida and Arizona into three phases. I tried not to get too wordy with the title, so I went with ‘The Three Phases of Spring Training.’ I’m such a wordsmith.
Initially, we have the honeymoon phase. Everything is beautiful. The colors are vibrant. The smells are enticing. During the first couple of weeks of arriving in camp, everyone’s excited to see their old friends, meet new ones and get down to the business of baseball. Guys start to crank things up, keeping it loose and having a grand ole time while knowing there’s a timeline to get ready for the season. Young players are going 100 mph while veterans understand the nuances of getting ready. And yes, EVERYONE’S in the greatest shape of their lives!
After the first couple of weeks go by, then you hit the coma phase of camp. Pitcher’s fielding practice (PFP’s), base-running drills, batting practice, bunt defenses…it all begins to run together and it is mundane. The one saving grace during this period is the fact games are actually being played in front of live people (as opposed to non-living personnel of the backfields and sim-games…I kid because I care).
If you’re mentally strong enough to go through the honeymoon and coma phases of camp, you arrive at the I-can’t-wait-to-get-the-hell-out-of-here phase of spring training. The title of this phase makes it seem so negative but in reality it’s the light at the end of the tunnel. By this time, everyone’s complaining about the length of camp and media members are tired of taking out-of-focus, out-of-frame pictures with their smartphones (not smart enough, I suppose). Pitching rotations are pretty much locked in and everyone begins to look forward to the start of games that actually do count in the standings.
I’ve always enjoyed this time of year. From a fan’s perspective, it’s the best time to gain access to players, coaches & managers. My personal recommendation is to go during the honeymoon phase. It just seems like guys have more time to spend with the fans between drills and fields, which makes it all that much better for the little ones in your family. Everyone is just more relaxed during the early parts of camp.
On a side note…
I’ve been contemplating a couple of writing projects over the last several years and I’ve finally decided to sit down and put words on a computer screen. It is for this reason, among others, I’ve decided to jump start the blog once again. More often than not my focus will remain on baseball. But I’ve also started to delve into some other interests such as photography and I figured this would be a good way of sharing some of the many things I get to “see” on a daily basis. While I’ll remain active on some of the other social media platforms, this forum will provide me the ability to write in long form if I so choose. I always enjoy the interactions of baseball fans. I love this sport like no other and to me, it doesn’t matter what team you pledge your allegiance to as long as you have the same passion as I do.
In case you’re wondering, I shot the attached photo on Wailea Beach in Maui back in November. Took the shot with my newest toy, Canon EOS 5D (24-105mm).
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Livin’ the dream…