It may still be winter here in Geneseo, but Major League Baseball spring training has begun. Pitchers and catchers were the first to report back to their teams on Feb. 18. The next players to report are the remaining infielders and outfielders. There are two leagues splitting up the 30 teams: the Cactus League in Arizona and the Grapefruit League in Florida—both with preseason games set to begin on Sunday March 1.
Players are returning to their teams following another active offseason in which fans saw plenty of super stars switch sceneries. Recently dismal franchises such as the Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros and San Diego Padres have beefed up their rosters with some top-tier talent acquisitions. The upper echelon of spenders followed suit, including the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals.
In New York, we continue to see two teams trending in opposite directions. In Queens, New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey is returning from Tommy John surgery along with a promising line of prospects ready to take the stage. Over in the Bronx, the New York Yankees have slowly become a team of wily old veterans, many of whom broke down near the end of last season.
The Yanks have seen their all-star assets diminish in recent years—the core of players responsible for their generational success. It was catcher Jorge Posada, pitcher Andy Pettitte and pitcher Mariano Rivera retiring in the past, but this year they will lose the legendary shortstop Derek Jeter to retirement. They will take the field with a cast of veterans and inexperienced players thrown together. This year also marks the overhyped return of 39-year-old third baseman Alex Rodriguez following his year-long suspension.
Nonetheless, all 30 teams are set to begin their quest to win a World Series title, and the road starts here. Spring training is a time for all teams to start from scratch with everyone starting with identical records. It represents new hope for teams, players and fans. Young prospects look to prove their talents to a new league while others hope to finally see their name on the back of an MLB jersey. Spring training is more than a time for practice and exhibition games—it’s a chance to evaluate the crop of talent and decide the contributing roster of the long season ahead.
Baseball season also means that better weather is on its way; let the excitement begin and the hype become reality. Fan attention has always been high for fair-weathered enthusiasts. Spring training will continue to draw crowds of people traveling to warmer climates and to see their favorite teams play.
Some may say it’s the best time of the year––there is hope and potential running through all 30 fan bases. Even for casual fans, America’s pastime is back.