10 things to look forward to as Spring Training games begin
You just woke up in a dark room. You're not really sure where you are or how long you've been asleep. You don't even know your name. Has it been five hours or five days? You're basically the main character in Memento. But you see a TV is on and baseball is on. Is it a real game or a Spring Training? You don't know, you JUST. DON'T. KNOW.
Well, use our handy checklist and you'll know for sure.
1. It's bright. Impossibly bright.
Thanks to ballgames being played in the stark early Spring weather in Arizona or Florida, the quality of light is unlike anything you'll see during the year. Everything is impossibly brighter, as if your TV's picture settings were accidentally changed when your remote got stuck between couch cushions.
2. It's windy. Impossibly windy.
Every pop-up becomes an adventure and every fly ball has a chance of leaving the park in the tricky, swirling winds that hang around the Spring Training stadiums. Is it because of their location, or is it because of the strange powers of Spring Training? That's something we just can't say.
3. Pitchers have early release days.
They show up, pitch two innings, and then head home to, presumably, play video games. It's just like when school would get out early and you'd spend the rest of the day taking on Doctor Robotnik.
1. Cozy stadiums
Find 40,000 seat stadiums to be a bit too big? Head to Spring Training and grab a seat at the oldest Spring Training ballpark, McKechnie Field.
Located in Bradenton, Fla., the spring home of the Pirates has been renovated to boast a whopping 8,500 seats. It's basically the Major League equivalent of sitting around the campfire swapping stories.
2. The land of 1,000 relievers
As pitchers work at stretching out their arms, tossing fastballs that would make Jamie Moyer blush, you're going to see a lot of relievers. Especially early in camp, as starters rarely go longer than two innings. If you're someone who loves armchair scouting the sixth-inning man, this is the time for you.
3. Messy scorecards
If there are going to be a lot of relievers, you better believe there are going to be some messy scorecards. Prepare to write on the back, in the margins and down your arm as you squeeze in the sixth pitcher and fourth double-switch of the afternoon.
4. The players just straight up chilling
Imagine there was a magical world where professional ballplayers could both ply their craft and relax with old friends.
Guess what, that place is real. It's called Spring Training.
5. The insane matchups
This is less of a novelty thanks to Interleague Play, but it's still not every day that you see Yasiel Puig attempt to throw out Mike Trout trying to score on an inside-the-park home run. That's right. It happened. And it was beautiful.
6. All the Minor Leaguers
Don't like rain? Fine, head to Arizona. Where you can confront scorpions. SCORPIONS.
Scorpion invasion at the White Sox's spring training complex. So there's that. pic.twitter.com/y8WaTbagnw- Doug Padilla (@ESPNChiSox) February 21, 2015
8. Wind-aided monster home runs
Home runs are always fun. And when they're sent out of the stadium on a swirling jet stream, well, that's even more fun.
9. Afternoon rain
If you're in Florida, prepare for some routine fifth-inning showers. It's okay though, since the games don't count (unless you're really hoping for that Grapefruit League title). And hey, if you're at the game, you're probably on vacation. Sit back and relax.
10. First glimpses of players in their new uniforms
Sure, eventually you'll get used to it. But for now, it's weird. Spooky weird.
(This post has been modified after originally being posted on Mar. 3, 2015)