|Spring Training a Good Experience for Fans||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on March 08, 2012
Spring training began about two weeks ago, but for fans it doesn't really begin until this week when preseason games begin.Â Up until now all of the information about players, their conditioning and injuries has been spoon fed to the fans by the media.
In some ways that's not a bad thing, it allows even the worst teams to evince a sense of optimism.Â After all, they see their own teammates, not the opposition, when they make those outrageous predictions.
For those who've never gone, it's a wonderful experience that is highly recommended.Â With the exception of a handful of teams (Yankees, Red Sox and maybe one or two more), most spring training facilities are much more open to the public and the players far more accessible than they are at any time during the season.Â Additionally since team facilities are usually so close together, it's rarely more than an hour drive between one stadium and the next.Â That makes it easy to not just see your home team, but a number of teams, even those from other leagues who you might only get to see during interleague play.
It's also a great time to speak to some of the greatest minds in the game today.Â The stands in these mini stadiums facilities are packed with scouts, baseball executives, coaches and ex-ballplayers, most of whom are incredibly friendly and willing to talk to knowledgeable and respectful fans.
That's true of the ballplayers too.Â I've spent plenty of afternoons jawing with players, scouts and others during spring games. While there are factors that depend on the team, if you have the right attitude and you are willing to put yourself out a little bit, it can fulfill some baseball fantasies for young and old. Â And if you do it right it's all available without a special access pass.
Those are some of the things that make spring training great.Â After a long winter it's the first real taste of summer coming back to us.Â The warm weather, baseball and ballpark food are harbingers of the days ahead.Â But the magic of spring training is deeper -- and maybe that has to do with some of the things I've said above.
But there is magic to it, a sense of nostalgia and a reminder of a simpler age, when players weren't unreachable and guarded from the public, when they were members of the community.Â Oh sure there are some prima donnas, but for most fans this is the closest you'll ever get to players who belong on Major League rosters, not to mention getting to see all the prospects and youngsters who aren't about attitude but about playing the game.
But most of all it's fun.Â No matter what your age it's fun for the whole family, from the most jaded baseball fan to even the spouse who's usually indifferent to the game.Â There is something about this time of year that just forces you to smile while you wait for the umpires to shout "play ball!"