The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Seemingly endless baseball season now open

By Chris Cates/sports editor

Spring Training is already underway. No, I didn’t stutter. It’s mid-February and teams are already playing ball.

When the World Series winner isn’t crowned until November, we are talking about at least three-fourths of the year dedicated to baseball. That’s one sorry off-season. Take one look at football, and it seems the players have it made when compared to Major League Baseball. The football season covers only about half the calendar year, with training camp beginning around July and the season’s final game being played in late January to early February.

So baseball has half the time off that football does; the league must make up for it in-season, right? Wrong. MLB plays games almost every day, while the NFL is on a weekly schedule. Sure, you could get much more seriously injured in football, but I know I wouldn’t want a 100 mile-per-hour fastball flying at my head on a regular basis either.

How long is too long or how short is too short when it comes to spring training, training camp and the like? Does it really take teams a month and a half to determine the last two roster spots? Generally, teams know most of the guys they’ll be taking with them to the big league club before spring training even begins, yet they drag out the process so much that players are genuinely tired of baseball before the action really starts.

Most of the big name players don’t even attend camp until after the rest of the team, citing “personal” reasons or not wanting to re-aggravate a swollen pinky. I don’t blame them at all, though—it’s not like they aren’t ready for the big show when the time comes. Really, spring training is only for the rookies and those in competition.

Time and time again, I’ve seen lifelong minor-leaguers explode during spring training only to disappoint when given the chance. Guys like Gabe Gross come to mind—never done anything of note in their career, yet they shock everyone by leading the league in home runs during spring training. Having earned themselves a roster spot, they almost always proceed to do nothing at the major league level and get demoted.

Not only is spring training unimportant to most, it also can be deceiving.

Now, as a huge sports fan, I’m not complaining about the length of the season by any means. It’s just more time out of the year that I get to think about baseball. But from a strategy perspective, the question of how much is too much is always raised. And I say nine months is too much.

Players—especially the younger pitchers—tend to wear down as the season progresses. It’s to the point where guys are given pitch counts, something Nolan Ryan would have laughed at in his day. Cutting spring training short would keep these players fresher for longer, and dead arms wouldn’t be as much of a problem come the postseason.

The preseason standings mean absolutely nothing and almost never represent what actually has happened come season’s end. The one thing that it is good for, however, is the team chemistry. Given the current state of baseball, players change teams at an alarming rate, so it takes time each season to develop as a unit. Not just on the field (timing, etc.) either, but off the field and in the locker room. Teams in turmoil don’t usually see the success or their counterparts, and the month and a half leading up to the season can go a long way into bringing teams together for the cause.

All in all, while it may be an unnecessary amount of time to simply practice, it isn’t a complete waste, and for some players, it’s absolutely necessary.

Rookies become integrated; teams gain needed chemistry, and skills develop. However, despite all the negatives and the fact that it just feels weird to be talking baseball in February, it’s still fun. And for us fans and for the players making multi-millions to whom it may seem all business at times, what more could you really ask for than a little fun?

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