Regional Sports

Spring training losing its flavor

Pitchers and catchers reported last week, and everyone on the roster showed up a few days ago. Exhibition games in the Grapefruit League and Cactus League start this weekend.

Yet, I am not excited like I used to be. Is this a sign of a midlife crisis? Am I too old? So many questions to ponder.

I like to think I am the only one, but this is not a me problem. Most baseball fans I know can’t get worked up about it anymore. The images of guys working in Florida and Arizona do not capture a fan’s imagination anymore. The word “pitchers and catchers report” does not have fans looking at the calendar and counting down how many days until baseball season starts.

The Houston Astros turned out to be the story of spring training with players having a negative opinion of them for cheating by using electronic devices to steal signals. Players showed their courage for speaking out, but now that’s getting old. At some point, we all have to move on, no?

Spring training games mean nothing with players getting their work in, and watching prospects in those games does not get anyone excited since it’s not real live action. Those games turn out to be a borefest by the time four or five games are over with.

The fans attend spring training games just to get out of the cold weather up north and enjoy a relaxing atmosphere where they can enjoy the game knowing it doesn’t count rather than be stressed about it. But then it has to be boring after awhile, no?

This exercise becomes hell a week later. The games do not get anyone interested enough to watch, and it makes February even more horrible as a sports month. One can only take so much.

Too much exposure of spring training games on ESPN and MLB Network could have made these games so unbearable. It’s hard to take away anything out of it when there’s really nothing anyone can take from it. Players become bored themselves after three weeks.

It’s actually not a bad thing the regular season starts on March 26 this season. It may be early, but it beats watching exhibition games. This gives fans a chance to watch two weeks of regular season baseball before the NBA playoffs and Stanley Cup playoffs start.

But until then it’s a long wait. At least, baseball players spent way too much time on the Astros that they forgot to talk about how they are in their best shape of their lives or this is the year everything comes to together or whatever useless spring training lingo they can come up with.

Overexposure of spring training games took the fun out of it a long time ago. It’s hard to say why. It’s basically now for the kids. But here’s the problem: The kids are not into baseball like they used to anymore since it’s too slow and not many players have personalities like the NBA and NFL have.

Baseball players rather hide and be anonymous rather than talk to the media and promote themselves to the fans. Teams prefer their players to do their work and say nothing. That could explain another reason why spring training lost its luster.

Maybe I am just old and so worn out with meaningless games that only benefit the owners since they make money out of it. That has to be it.

Fortunately, teams make money out of spring training games, so all is not lost. There’s some value that comes with it.

But for a geezer like me, it does not make it any better. It just becomes a waste of time that no one needs.

Yes, fans will tune in for a week just to get their baseball juice going, but then they will turn it off knowing these games are as boring as an XFL game or an NFL exhibition game. One can only enjoy a player playing for three innings and call it a day. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if managers now don’t even bother to feature their star players in spring training games. After all, the NFL teams started doing it in exhibition games.

Maybe it’s time to cut spring training games into two weeks and do it in late March.

That can make spring training games much more meaningful since guys have to get ready to go right away with the regular season games on the horizon.

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