This is the last article for the last of spring training and I’ve been sitting here not knowing what to say. Because it’s the end, but not really. And we’re so close to the beginning, but still not quite. It’s the end of the beginning even though the beginning really hasn’t started yet. So what do I say? It’s like we’re stuck in a holding area, waiting for the signal, the green light, the go ahead, the proceed with caution. It’s like getting stuck in road construction and waiting for the workers to change their signs from stop to slow. The last spring training game was a little sad even though it shouldn’t have been. Even the weather seemed to understand, being windy and overcast most of the time, only allowing the sun to shine through every now and then.
Most people really don’t even care about preseason games because, in the grand scheme of things, they really don’t matter. It’s more or less the end of the warm-ups, and now it’s on to bigger and better things, which that really only means that the games will be nationally televised and the wins and losses actually count now. The lineups will look more familiar, the tickets will be more expensive, and sitting on the lawn near the outfield is no longer an option.
And baseball will now be available to more people than just those in Arizona and Florida. Thank goodness. I figure most people come down for the games mostly for the weather or to experience spring training for the first time. But there are a good number of regulars, too who make the trip just because they always do.
I can’t help but smile at all the little kids who have been born into baseball families and how going to spring training seems almost like a sacred pilgrimage for them. A family next to me came from Los Angeles to go to four games over the course of five days. And they weren’t alone. They came with other families too.
I had a nice little conversation with one of the boys. His name was Ash and he’s a Yankees fan. I asked him who his favorite player was and he said he didn’t have one, at least, not anymore. He explained to me that it used to be Mark Teixeira, but he’s retired now. It’s amazing to me that it’s been two years since his retirement, and yet, this kid still hasn’t replaced Teixeira with a new favorite like Judge or Gregorius. So young and yet able to know that there will never be another like his old favorite, so why even bother choosing someone else to replace him?
But I also learned that’s not the only exceptional thing about Ash. I wanted to talk to him because he was one of the few lucky young fans that caught a ball thrown directly from Christian Yelich himself. His mother said I could chat with him and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but Ash surprised me. He wasn’t shy, he gave honest answers and smiled the whole time. And that ball he caught? It was his second one in three games! The most exciting thing I’ve ever gotten from a game was a souvenir cup from the concession stand.
So as far as this being the end, I think I know what to say now. Spring training is over and the only people that should be sad are the players that aren’t on the roster to play in the big leagues. Other than that, this is a happy time and it’s here to stay (at least until September.) And if you’re not happy, just think of kids like Ash, remaining devoted to their one, true favorite and walking away from spring training with some fabulous souvenirs. So here’s to a great baseball season and may the best team win, so long as it’s mine.