Spring Training Thoughts

I have never been much of a fan of Spring Training, or of exhibition matches in any sport. Spring Training irked me more because my love of baseball necessitated that I be more acutely exposed to the reports that came out from these meaningless games. I have a hard time caring less which players are in the best shape of their life or who worked on the most new pitches over the winter. I wanted no part of it.

All that went out the window when I was offered the opportunity to head down to Arizona with my fellow FanGraphers for a weekend stay. Just the chance to get out from the cloudy Seattle weather was motivation enough, but a chance to meet and commisserate with baseball people far more informed and curious than I was an excellent bonus. I can heartily say that I had a great time and David Appleman deserves endless thanks not just for this trip but for paving all the roads that lead there in the first place.

Did any of the baseball actually change my mind on Spring Training? Not really. I still don’t care much for the “news” making parts of Arizona and Florida games, but the trip did bring to light an angle that I had previously been ignorant of. After a nearly six month layoff from baseball, it really was gratifying to see some being played again, even if it meant nothing. Getting to see it in conjunction with a mini-vacation, as the south is for those of us aboding up north, made it all the more better as did the wonderful company.

I will say that tickets to the games were cheaper than I anticipated, running around $12 for field seats and under $10 for the general admission outfield grass “bleachers.” That was a welcome surprise in an industry so accustomed to squeezing out every cent possible. If asked before the trip what my advice would be for would-be Spring Training attendees, I would have said “don’t go.” With the benefit of hindsight, I now would say “go once, at least.” Just make sure you bring some sunscreen, a car and some patience for the traffic.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

5 Responses to “Spring Training Thoughts”

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  1. Mark says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. I can definitely attest that Spring Training is one of the best things ever if you grow up with it. The Braves and Expos trained in my hometown, so Feb-March. was definitely the highlight of South Florida’s pre-Marlin years. Nothing beats spring sun and foul balls.

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  2. Dave says:

    Spring Training is just a fabulous time. I went last year and highly recommend it.

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  3. Mark S says:


    Because I enjoy it too much and don’t need more people crowding up the place. :D

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  4. My experience with Spring Training a couple years ago was that it brought together alot of fans of alot of different teams in a communal environment. Because the games didn’t count, there was no real competitive aspect. So as I found myself sitting in Roger Dean Stadium getting ready to watch Daisuke Matsuzaka make his American debut a few years ago, I — A Tiger fan with no real links to the Red Sox — Found myself seated in front of two Sox fans. One of them was from Rhode Island and one of them was from Boston. In front of me was a Rangers fan from Texas, and also in our general vicinity was a Yankees fan from Tennessee.

    It was the first baseball game I got to attend that year, which was fun by itself, but what really got me was the communal aspect. It brought fans of all teams from all regions together to enjoy the game and to have casual conversations with one another. I asked the Rangers fan about how he felt his team would compete during the year and got a perspective that I may not otherwise have been privy to without some digging. Whether or not he was particularly informed wasn’t really important to me — It was just an opportunity to talk to fans of other teams in a low-pressure non-charged environment while enjoying the game. While I was down there I went to Lakeland (Tigers/Braves), Tampa (Yankees/Reds), Jupiter (Red Sox/Cardinals?), and Vero Beach (Dodgers/Marlins). They were four wonderful experiences and I had a great time. As the author says, I think everyone should do it at least once. I plan on doing it again whenever I can scrounge up the money.

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  5. B says:

    This is what I’ve been trying to tell people for a long time, some still don’t want to listen, though – Spring Training is one of the greatest baseball experiences there is. Going down to a warm weather state and getting in the sun after months of winter is amazing. After a long absence of baseball, it’s surprising just how awesome it is to just be watching a baseball game, regardless of whether it matters or not. It’s an awesome and casual setting, you just hang out and watch the game, socialize, walk around the stadium, sit on grass seating area bleachers, talk to other random fans who may or may not be affiliated with your team, it’s cheap, you get to see the future of your and other organizations and your teams stars at the same time, you feel way closer to the game and players…..it’s really just a wonderful baseball experience. That the games and stats are meaningless doesn’t matter or take anything away from the experience.

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