Spring Training is always an exciting time for baseball fans as it signals the start of a new season and the return of America’s pastime. With the chill of winter slowly starting to fade, Spring Training is the perfect time to escape from the cold and enjoy a few weeks of warm weather and have impressed upon us the newly dirt clad cleats and a preview of what’s to come.
I’ve never been to a Spring Training myself. In fact, I’ve only been to Florida once (Destin), and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. But of course, the prospect of a week in Bradenton is alluring. Baseball is a personal endeavor as it is, but the setting of Spring Training seems even more intimate. Away from the brighter lights of the regular season, Spring Training seems as though a time machine taking players and fans back to the game they originally fell in love with.
While each sport engages in its own version of spring training, nothing quite comes to close to the experience of baseball. Indeed, the weather, the relaxed nature, and the general ambiance of a Spring Training game – even on television or radio – elicits the pastoral nature of the game, the simplicity of action: catch, throw, hit, run.
It’s one of the few occasions in which fans get to enjoy the game in its purest form and for what it is, before the looming threat of standings, trade deadlines, and questionable ownership. For much of my adult life, I’ve been trying to find some semblance of simplicity.
In many facets, life is not simple: careers, children, mortgages, emergency expenditures, and unforeseen circumstances. That’s why I (and probably many of you) tend to – no, need to – relish the slowness, the creeping quiet of a Spring Training baseball game.
The time of knocking snow off wet boots is over; of wearing puffy jackets over wool sweaters; of waking up 10 minutes earlier than normal to scrape, pry and heat your car is over – well, almost over. Bats and balls and gloves and rosin; dirt and sunflower seeds and pine tar and ash. The allure of a new baseball season is upon us, beckoning each and every one of us with a sense of adventure, the way the pine of the forest calls many of us to try to brave it in the wild.
Baseball is a great beast, and she need not be tamed. While some have allowed themselves to be dissolved by so-called pace of play issues – and while others never got on board at all – many of us know that because the intricacies of the sport, the relaxed nature of play, and the ceaseless pace at which a new season is continually thrust upon us, baseball remains a metaphor for life: the pride, the joy, the sorrow, the indignities and everything in between. And now, baseball is back