Spring training has become a season and an industry unto itself, complete with big shiny stadiums and expensive tickets and big scoreboards and all of that. As such, we have almost completely forgotten that it’s basically just practice.
Really, that’s the purpose. Teams used to take off to some remote camp in the middle of nowhere in the spring. Maybe a decommissioned army base or ranch owned by the team owner’s friend or some isolated island off the coast of California. There they’d practice. They’d work out and get ready for the season. While they’d play some exhibitions and barnstorm as they headed back north or east, the idea of putting on 30 nine-inning games for paying customers, as if it were the regular season, was almost completely foreign.
Keep that in mind as you watch Asdrubal Cabrera get into, and then peace out of, a rundown in yesterday’s game against the Detroit Tigers:
You may want to call him lazy or lackadaisical or something, but this is practice. It’s still practice, even if MLB and its clubs and the host cities in Arizona and Florida treat it as competitive sports and charge fans as if the games had some consequence. In this case, it was more practice for the Tigers, actually, in that learning how to execute a rundown properly is more critical than a runner learning how to get out of one. Why on Earth should a New York Met help the Tigers with their practice?
Anyway, I don’t blame you, Asdrubal. You get paid for the stuff that starts on April 3. Just make sure you’re in shape and ready for that day.
For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.
The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?
Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.
Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West
There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.
Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?
Our 2017 AL West Previews:
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim