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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