Spring Training: The Promise of a Brand New Season

Baseball on TV is a glorious thing. Even if it’s a Spring Training game between the Nationals and the Mets or the Yankees and the Pirates, you can’t go wrong on a cold afternoon in the northeast watching baseball.

Every year, it’s been like that for me. When the first week in March rolls around and snow still covers the ground here, somewhere down south — in Florida, in Arizona — baseball teams are taking the field for the start of another season. And it’s great.

It’s great because no one knows what happens next. In any baseball season, anything can happen. If you told a Red Sox fan 12 months ago that Boston would be the reigning World Champions come March of 2005, this fan would probably have just signed and said, “In my dreams.? But here we are, and the Red Sox, on the way down to Florida, were treated as World Champs at the White House.

So what surprises does the 2005 season hold? I don’t know, and that’s what makes baseball great. Can the Red Sox win again after going 86 years without a World Championship? (I hope not!) Can Ichiro reach that nearly unattainable .400 plateau? How many games does it take before Barry Bonds becomes the number two home run hitter of all time? What about number one? Bonds has hit more than 53 home runs in a season before.

Who’s going to be that surprise team this year? Can the Twins finally get past the Divisional Series? Can the Cubs shake off nine decades of ghosts, miffed groundballs, fan interference, and a goat? Can the upstart Marlins led by a feared lefty slugger unseat the Braves from atop the NL East? And how about those Tigers? Or Dodgers? Or Mariners? Or Diamondbacks? The Tigers are eyeing .500 and beyond this year after nearly setting a new record for futility in 2003. The Dodgers made it to the playoffs for the first team in 10 years and have completely retooled this year. The Mariners and the D-backs are just looking to make up for subpar seasons.

And then there are the stories of personal triumph. Can Javier Vazquez shake the demons of a few rough starts in New York? Can Rich Ankiel finally come back from wildness and arm injury to fulfill his promise? Will Jason Giambi show the world that he’s better than steroids? How will David Wells fare pitching for his (former?) favorite team’s bitter rivals? And how does Pedro Martinez respond to the home town of the “Who’s your daddy?? chant.

Who will be that great fantasy pick? How about the surprise choice for rookie of the year? Will Tim Hudson win a Cy Young under Leo Mazzone and the Braves? Will Randy and Curt, two weathered veterans at the twilight of their careers, battle it out for supremacy in the AL or will age, ever just around the corner, finally catch up? And what about The Rocket?

And then there are the off-field dramas. Will Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and many other players testify in Senate? In court? Who will get caught using steroids under the new policy? Will this be the issue that drives a deep wedge between the Players Union and the owners or will both groups address the issue in a way that puts it out the minds of the fans, the media, the players?

This is what makes baseball great. Every season, every game, offers something new. New dramas, new first-time all stars, new veterans to be that clutch player, new counts, new standings. And it all begins in Spring Training. So while I sat watching some guys with high numbers and no recognizable names battle on a rainy day in Tampa, I knew that baseball had returned, and all was once again good.

For spring break this week, I am driving down to Florida with three of my friends. We’re a Yankee fan, a Red Sox fan, a Phillies fan, and a Braves fan, and we’re seeing four games this week. I’ll be writing a little something about each game. So check back regularly next week.

Advertisements

RSS River Ave. Blues

  • Sunday Open Thread October 22, 2017
    The first open thread of the offseason. Yuck. At least this one came much later than the last few seasons. It’s been a while since the Yankees went into the offseason feeling like a team on the rise, not a team trying to hang on to past glory and figure out a way to stay […] The post Sunday Open Thread appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa
  • Glow and Grow October 22, 2017
    Before we begin, a sincere thanks to you, dear readers, for following along during the season and the playoffs. We all appreciate your day in, day out support and couldn’t do any of this without you. Please continue to read, share, and support the–frankly–great work that goes on here. Yankees Only.  Reflection and feedback are […] The post Glow and Grow appe […]
    Matt Imbrogno
  • Astros 4, Yankees 0: Game Seven loss sends Yankees home for the winter October 22, 2017
    All great things must come to an end. The incredibly fun and better than pretty much everyone expected 2017 Yankees season came to a close Saturday night, with a 4-0 loss to the Astros in Game Seven of the ALCS. Houston will take on the Dodgers in the World Series. The Yankees are heading home. […] The post Astros 4, Yankees 0: Game Seven loss sends Yankees […]
    Mike Axisa
  • 2017 ALCS Game Seven: Yankees at Astros October 21, 2017
    So here we are again. Another win or go home game. The Yankees have been through a few of these already this postseason. Except unlike the Wild Card Game or Games Three, Four, and Five of the ALDS, a spot in the World Series is on the line tonight. The Yankees and Astros are playing […] The post 2017 ALCS Game Seven: Yankees at Astros appeared first on River […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Thoughts prior to Game Seven of the 2017 ALCS October 21, 2017
    For the fifth time in the last 18 days, the Yankees will play with their season on the line tonight. They are a perfect 4-0 in elimination games this postseason, and tonight’s Game Seven with the Astros will determine who moves on to face the Dodgers in the World Series. I am weirdly not nervous. […] The post Thoughts prior to Game Seven of the 2017 ALCS app […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Astros 7, Yankees 1: Yanks can’t solve Verlander, Astros force Game Seven October 21, 2017
    What, you didn’t think winning the pennant would be easy, did you? The Yankees and Astros are going to a Game Seven. Justin Verlander shut the Yankees down again in Game Six of the ALCS on Friday night, then Houston’s offense tacked on a bunch of insurance runs late to put the game out of […] The post Astros 7, Yankees 1: Yanks can’t solve Verlander, Astros […]
    Mike Axisa
  • 2017 ALCS Game Six: Yankees at Astros October 20, 2017
    For the first time since the championship season of 2009, the Yankees are one win away from going to the World Series. They fell behind 0-2 in the ALCS before storming back to take a 3-2 series lead. Beating up on Dallas Keuchel in Game Five the other day was satisfying. Very satisfying. The series […] The post 2017 ALCS Game Six: Yankees at Astros appeared […]
    Mike Axisa
  • The best way to beat Justin Verlander in Game Six could be swinging early in the count October 20, 2017
    Tonight the Yankees have a chance to advance to the World Series, and they’re in this position because they beat up on Dallas Keuchel in Game Five. Keuchel shut the Yankees down in Game One, which he’s done throughout his career, but the tables were turned in Game Five and he didn’t make it through […] The post The best way to beat Justin Verlander in Game S […]
    Mike Axisa
  • The Yankees are one game away from the World Series thanks to their pitching staff October 20, 2017
    In just a few hours the Yankees will look to clinch a spot in the 2017 World Series. I still can’t believe they’ve made it this far. They weren’t supposed to contend this year. They weren’t supposed to come back from down 0-2 to the Indians. They weren’t supposed to come back from down 0-2 […] The post The Yankees are one game away from the World Series than […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Mailbag: Tanaka, Otani, Thomson, Gleyber, Judge, Bullpen October 20, 2017
    We’ve got nine questions in this week’s mailbag. And later tonight, the Yankees will look to clinch the American League pennant. Amazing. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is where you can send us any questions. Many asks: Does Tanaka’s great postseason make him more likely to opt-out? It could, sure. That said, teams have […] The post Mailbag: Tanaka, […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 62,569 hits

%d bloggers like this: