Mar 072005
 
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

I can explain why I love Major League Baseball Spring Training by using a philosophical theory, proving I actually might have learned something in that class: I love baseball. Spring Training is baseball. Therefore, I love Spring Training.

In Spring Training, anything can happen. Take, for example, the teams that are undefeated so far: the Milwaukee Brewers (4-0), Detroit Tigers (3-0) and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are an impressive (3-1). Detroit is also the only team in the American League that is undefeated.

Now let's ponder this: The New York Yankees, a mainstay in the playoffs, have yet to win a game.

By no means am I saying that the Brewers will win 100 games and win the World Series, nor do I expect the Yankees to lose 100 games. But it's always fun for me, a fan of teams that regularly miss the playoffs, to say to my Yank-loving friends, "Ha! Yankees suck!" and actually have some proof to back my statement.

Big bombs, soft grounders and seeing players you might never see during the rest of the season. There's lots of fun to be found in spring games. The players have yet to endure the strain of a long season and are in high spirits after suffering from cabin fever since October. Everyone's in a good mood; the games are fun, and what a better way to spend a few days vacation than in the sun and warmth of Florida or Arizona while a ballgame is being played?

I can smell the green grass and pine tar just thinking about it.

Once again, my television has something to offer me other than replayed Nuggets games and poker. Once again, I can spend a few hours watching baseball while my homework sits on the table.

But perhaps my biggest reason for loving the spring season is it is a great preview for the depth of every franchise as they weed out the minor leaguers from the pros.

An invite to Spring Training is one of the things that every minor leaguer dreams of. It's a chance to play with the big boys and show off skills that managers can't see in a minor league box score.

I keep tabs on those players scoring four runs in a Spring Training game and on that pitcher who pulled off a win by not allowing a hit or run in three innings pitched. I might be seeing them in a year or two in a game that really does count. Of all the young guys who come to camp and don't make it, there are many who will get a little more notice. That connection is there. Many of these players will be key in the pros in a year or two, or even a few months when that big man at first base goes down with a knee injury.

Sure, you can say that these games don't matter. You can say that it's just a waste of time. But I think to those players fighting for a chance to start or even to take up room on the bench, it's a worthwhile month before the pressure sets in.

And for me, it's another step closer to the day I've been dreaming about since the Red Sox won the World Series last fall: Opening Day, 2005. The first game is just 25 days away.

Stephanie Lindberg is a senior technical journalism major. She is a sports reporter for the Collegian.

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