If you enjoy baseball, beer, sunshine and cacti, then jot down a ‘trip to spring training’ on your bucket list. I spent a few days of my spring break down in Arizona and followed the San Francisco Giants as the reigning champs polished their spikes and geared up for the 2015 season. Unfortunately for Giants fans, this is an odd year so they’re going to be taking a break from winning world championships and waiting for 2016 to win another ring. All jokes aside, the team of the decade isn’t having the best spring, but we the fans still got to enjoy the atmosphere; the baseball was good, the sun was out, and as Will Ferrell would say, “these games don’t really count.”
Spring training is a chance for fans to watch their favorite players up close and personal, but also a chance for young minor league guys to try and make the roster and play with some of the San Francisco greats like Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and the 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. Many players who are on the spring training roster will get sent down and this could quite possibly be the end of their career. This is what makes spring training interesting – you get to watch guys fight for a position, or for the returning guys, spring training is a chance to work on fundamentals like bunting, fielding for pitchers, and base running.
The Giants own the worst record in the cactus league (6-16) but Bruce Bochy shouldn’t be the least bit worried. Matt Cain is returning from an injury that benched him last season, as well as some notable new additions to the offense from Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki should prove to be a winning formula once all the players work out the kinks and come together as a team. Aside from scouting out new players and kicking back with a cold brew in your hand, spring training let’s fans view baseball from a different perspective – a more personal and intimate setting.
Nothing beats baseball under the sun – spring training is like no other preseason sporting event; thousands of fans travel from all over the country to watch their favorite team compete for games that don’t matter. The cactus league provides fans with lifelong memories – one of my earliest childhood memories is a trip I took to spring training with my grandpa. I was eight years old and I remember being mesmerized by players signing autographs next to us and being so close to the field that we could give the players high fives. It’s something about the excitement of a new season mixed with foul balls and autograph signings that makes it so exciting. If you ever get the chance to go to spring training you should seize the opportunity to watch some great baseball and make memories you’ll never forget.
Photo Credit: Merrick Belding