There are few things better than day game baseball. One of those is a day-day baseball double header. Two of the best days of my life have been hosted by such an event.
One was June 10, 2004. I was in my social prime at age 11, coming off a very promising 4th grade year and was rewarded with a Rangers-Pirates doubleheader at the Ballpark in Arlington. I like to think I have a good memory but the day is just an amazing fog of 18 innings, 2 Rangers wins and me convincing Bucs first baseman Daryle Ward to toss me his infield warm-up ball for the 9th inning because, “You guys probably won’t go back out there.”
I was 11 so he complied, adding to my collection of baseballs that day. Earlier and opposite the visiting dugout, Alfonso Soriano and I pretty much had a routine. The pregame toss with middle infield mate Michael Young ended with next month’s All-Star Game MVP sending what might as well have been a diamond-laced sphere into my glove with an equally priceless smile to knock me over in my seat.
The thing about baseball, in short, is that unless you love the game and love to study the game, there’s an incomparable feeling of all those traits combined with a school-less, worry free triple digit degree afternoon with your Dad that you just can’t beat. It’s the pure euphoria of baseball. For those that do, it’s frikkin’ great isn’t it? And even better, we’re close.
Opening Day has it’s own Wikipedia page, and rightfully so. The MLB has decided to start things off abroad in Sydney, Australia with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. In 2012 the Athletics and Mariners kicked things off in Tokyo, Japan. Last season things jumped to a start in the Space City, with the Astros hosting the Rangers. Safe to say the Texas teams had the location of choosing. Right, outspoken Dodgers ace Zack Greinke? (If interested in a quick Greinke story, just say so in the comments section or contact me somehow, he’s…as interesting as he lets on)
Spring training workouts are in full swing – or full pitching motion – for all 30 teams. Games are set to start tomorrow with the Tigers and Yankees playing college teams from the Florida area but Wednesday bears the real (grape)fruit with seven matchups, six consisting of all-pro organizations.
Spring training games are typified by the numbers only jerseys and purposely generic uniforms. Even the smartest and brightest of baseball followers will need a program to identify a certain #78 playing left field for the Yankees in the top of the ninth on March 12th.
The real work at Spring Training happens behind the scenes, but surprisingly accessible to those who attend their team’s camps during Spring Break…the best vacation of the year.
The takeaway though, is that pitchers are throwing to batters in an opposing uniform and drills start to become final preparations for the long, beautiful 162 game grind.
Spring Training has always had a special spark to it. Unlike basketball and sort of like football, baseball season on the horizon provides a spark for fans and inspires mostly bottomless optimism for at least 50 games or so. Even Mets, White Sox and Marlins fans can feel good about their chances in 2014. They might not make it to 50 games, but March is a happy month for a fan of any team. Nobody’s really losing!
“Zero Excitement Zack” Greinke and his Dodgers play the Diamondbacks on March 22nd and 23rd – 5 hours behind the Cali coast in Sydney, Australia – to start the 2014 Major League Baseball regular season.