Spring Training 101 – Baseball Basics

Hey guys, welcome back to 90 Feet from
Home. I’m your host Ashley, and today we’re going to get into a topic that is
kind of top of mind right now, which is spring training. When you’re seeing this
video it’s probably going to be just the wind down of spring training, or the very
beginning of the regular season, but I thought I would give a little explainer
as to what spring training is, how it got started, why it matters it matters, and
a little bit of my own experience attending my first ever spring training
games this year. If spring training is something that’s interesting to you, you
are in for a treat. While we’re at the top, I’m gonna remind everybody to hit that
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update, which is every Tuesday and Thursday. So welcome to the regular
cadence of this show, which I hope you are enjoying so far. With that in mind you can
follow me on social media which I’ve put somewhere around here. And let’s talk
spring training. Spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games. It’s primarily practiced for established players,
while non-roster players, those who are not already on a team’s 40-man roster,
will use it as an opportunity to audition for roles on a roster spot. So
guys that may have been a non-roster invitees,
who played on a different team in a previous year, or who were a minor league
player the previous season. Anybody who wants to make kind of an impact, or show
managers and coaches that they think that they have a have what it takes to
be on the regular team. Spring training is a really solid opportunity for those
guys to come out, really give it their all, show managers and coaches what
they’re made of and potentially make a roster spot for themselves going into
the regular season. For established players, those guys with the big names
the ones who are guaranteed a roster spot, really it’s just an opportunity for
them to kind of get a feel for playing with new teammates who may have joined
in the offseason, or to just kind of shake off the rust. It’s also a really
good opportunity for coaches, trainers, and managers of the team to see how guys
who may have had offseason surgeries or who faced injuries the previous season
are faring this season, and whether or not they’ll be in a good position or
healthy enough to play in regular games going into the season. So
say a guy had Tommy John surgery — which will be a whole other episode but it is
basically surgery in your elbow right here — you’ll see guys with scars here,
some of them will get tattoos. But if they’re coming back off of missing a
whole season for that, it’s a really good opportunity for anybody who makes those
decisions to see how they’re doing and if they’re ready for regular season play.
Or if they need to start in a lower level, and kind of build their way up. So
spring training typically starts mid-February. Lots of teams will report
on, or just before, Valentine’s Day. It typically starts with catchers and
pitchers reporting first, so if you ever hear the phrase “pitchers and catchers
report” or anybody is very excited about “pitchers and catchers reporting” that is
the very, very beginning of spring training. For the pitchers and the
associated catchers will show up first, and then within a few days position
players or the “whole squad” will show up and begin taking regular practices. By
the end of February — it used to be beginning of March but things have kind
of progressively moved more into February — by the end of February, very
early March, the first exhibition games are played. Those are played between
teams of the same league. There are two leagues in spring training, and they are
based entirely on where the teams play. So the Grapefruit League is entirely
based in Florida, whereas the Cactus League is based entirely in Arizona.
Exhibition games between the teams do not count towards regular season
standings, so that’s another thing you’ll often hear baseball fans and writers
talk about, is how the games in spring training don’t count. And while this is
true, it is really a great opportunity for those lesser-known players — those
players who are non-roster invitees — to show off their skills and what they’ve
got. So, you’ll usually in those games see the
bigger name players like the really well-known franchise stars start off
playing the first 4 or 5 innings, and then by the time the sixth, seventh, or
eighth inning rolls around, a bunch of guys who may not even have their names on the
back of their jerseys because they’re just not well-known stars. Usually if
you’re heading out to a spring training game, you can anticipate seeing players
that you’ll actually know in the first half of the game, whereas you’ll be given
an opportunity to see more prospect players or players who may not be well
established stars in their own right later on in the game. So for those who
are interested in prospects or want to see what the next generation of talent
coming up in a farm system is, the latter half of spring training games are a
really exciting opportunity to see those players that you don’t
regularly get to see a lot. Whereas, if you’re just hoping to, you know, snag an
autograph or see a big-name star a Florida stadium, you’ll want to show up
early ,and see those guys in the first half of the game. Because the games in
spring training don’t actually count towards standings, there’s a few nuances
there that don’t exist in regular season games. For example, if a spring training
game is rained out or — in the case of what happened earlier this season in
Arizona — hailed out, those games are not later made up in the season. So those
just are kind of a wash, literally often, and they don’t count
towards anything. In spring training games, you’ll also see games end in a tie
sometimes. If both teams have determined they’ve seen everything they need to see
out of the players that day they’ll just call the game as a tie. They may go into
extra innings if there were players that they were hoping to see something from
that day, just to give them a chance to work out their arms or take the field.
But typically if a game is in a tie at the end of the ninth inning, it will just
be called a tie. While today we see games take place in Florida and Arizona, spring
training as we know it actually began in 1886 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, of all
places. When owners and manager of the Chicago White Stockings — which did not
become the Chicago White Sox, but later became the Chicago Cubs — Cap Anson and
Albert Spalding decided that they thought warmer weather practice might
benefit their players, and head it down to Hot Springs to work the guys out
ahead of the regular season. When that season went very well for the White
Stockings, other teams like the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Detroit Tigers, and more
began taking notice, and more and more teams started heading down to Hot
Springs for the offseason. As a result, they built more playing fields in Hot
Springs so that more teams could take advantage of the warm weather and
practice. Now the Grapefruit League as we know it was the first of the major
spring training leagues to develop, and that happened in 1889 when the
Philadelphia Phillies moved down to Jacksonville, Florida instead of going to
Arkansas for the summer. So progressively more teams began to move from Arkansas
down to Florida, and by 2009 the bulk of major teams were playing in Florida. In
fact, as many as 18 teams at once have played in Florida, and only six of the
existing major franchises have never had a team play in Florida. By 2010, however,
rather than most teams playing in Florida it became an even 50/50 split
with 15 teams playing in Florida and 15 teams moving to Arizona where the
Cactus League was established. Now the Cactus League was established with
credit owing to Bill Veeck. Bill Veeck was the former owner of the Milwaukee
Brewers, who after retirement moved to Arizona, living in Tucson, and he ended up
purchasing the Cleveland Indians. Now this is entirely a story based on what
Bill Veeck has said in his book, and no one knows for sure, but some have
suggested that an experience he had while working out with the Brewers in
Ocala, Florida, he went and sat in a colored section of the segregated
stadium, and when he was asked to move because he was told he couldn’t sit
there, he had quite a negative reaction to that segregation, and he told the
Ocala mayor that he would end up moving the team as a result of the racist
interaction that he had there. Now whether or not that’s actually the
reason he ended up establishing a spring training camp for the Indians in Arizona
later on when he retired is unclear, but that is something that he said he
experienced in Ocala, Florida and it had left him kind of with a bitter taste in
his mouth for spring training in Florida. Maybe? Maybe not? That could be why we’ve
seen the Cactus League develop in Arizona as a result. So now let’s get down to who
plays where in the Florida League teams. So the Grapefruit League is kind of is a hot
mess. It’s all over the place. Most of the teams play on Florida’s west coast, where
there are a few just slightly north on the east above Miami. Regardless of where
these games are played, they are quite spread out around Florida, so getting
from one stadium to the other can be a bit of an ordeal. So if you’re going down
to Florida with the hopes of watching spring training games, it is definitely
better to find a more central location, like somewhere near Orlando, or a little
bit further south, and drive from there. Staying as close as possible to, like, the
St. Petersburg area may benefit you somewhat, but just know that if you are
going to Florida to watch different training games, they are all over the map
quite literally. So let’s get into who plays where. And if I’m good enough at
this thing, I will have a map somewhere so you guys can see. So the Braves
play in Kissimmee, Florida, which is actually just on the outskirts of
Orlando, and they play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, which is actually a
pretty cool concept. It is sort of a theme park in line with what the Disney
parks of Orlando are, but it’s an ESPN themed one, because ESPN does fall under
the Disney umbrella. Now the Braves play there currently, but
in 2020 they will be moving to North Port, Florida. So they are going to have
new digs in North Port, and that will be their new home stadium going forward. I’m
gonna go kind of more by location than team name here. So the Detroit Tigers
play in Lakeland, Florida, and have for over 80 years. The Yankees play in Tampa,
Florida, which is kind of entertaining considering their Eastern League
rivals the Tampa Bay Rays, play just across the bridge in St. Petersburg
during the regular season. So when I went to go see a game in Tampa, to see a
Yankees spring training game against the Tigers, a friend of mine asked why on
earth the Yankees were playing in Tampa, and I had to explain that the Yankees
minor-league franchise — the Tarpons — typically played in Tampa. We went to
George M Steinbrenner Stadium, and I will talk about that a little bit more
at the end of this, and kind of give you a glimpse of my first spring training
experience. The Toronto Blue Jays play in Dunedin, Florida. The Philadelphia
Phillies play in Clearwater, Florida. The Pittsburgh Pirates play in Bradenton,
Florida. The Baltimore Orioles play in Sarasota, Florida. The Tampa Bay Rays do
not play in Tampa Bay. They play in Port Charlotte, which is about 60 miles south,
making their spring pilgrimage probably one of the funniest, because their truck
doesn’t have to go very far. Both the Minnesota Twins and the Boston
Red Sox play in Fort Myers, Florida. Both the Houston Astros and the
Washington Nationals play in West Palm Beach, Florida. Both the Miami Marlins and
the St. Louis Cardinals play in Jupiter, Florida.
And the New York Mets play in Port St. Lucie. So that is where every single one
of the Grapefruit League teams currently calls home in Florida. Now for the Cactus
League, things are a lot more centrally located.
Everything is very near, in ,or around the Phoenix area, so if you’re going down for
spring training it’s actually very nicely located in that most teams share
stadiums. So usually two teams will share the same area, and it’s pretty easy to
get around because nothing is really that far outside of Phoenix. So in terms
of friendliness of driveability, Cactus League games are definitely your best
bet. So the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals play at Surprise Stadium. The San
Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners play at Peoria Stadium, and I know I got that
wrong but my apologies. The Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers play
Camelback Stadium. The Milwaukee Brewers play at Brewer Field. Rhey are one of the
few teams that has their own, much like the Chicago Cubs who play at Sloan Park.
The Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians play at Goodyear Stadium. The Los
Angeles Angels play at Tempe Diablo, which is a combination I really love,
because it’s the Angels playing at the devil. But that’s just me. The San
Francisco Giants play at Scottsdale Stadium. The Oakland Athletics play at HoHoKam, which is a heck of a lot of fun to say. And the Diamondbacks and the
Rockies play at Salt River Fields. Now, with all of these players and fans
coming in during this one month period, this is actually a hugely lucrative time
of year for these states. In 2018 Florida saw a tourism hike of $687 million
dollars, and in that same year in Arizona, the tourism dollars were $373 million. Meaning between the two states for spring
training alone, over $1 billion dollars in tourism revenue is created just by
people coming down to watch these games. The reason I point out how much value
there is in this, is because players themselves actually don’t get paid for
spring training. So for the guys who make big bucks, it’s not that big of a deal,
because you just kind of space the money out throughout the year. But for minor
league players, who are already receiving below poverty wage income, showing up
and playing for months at a time without receiving anything beyond a dinner time
per diem is actually a huge amount of stress for them. Considering they’re not
making any money to be there while they’re auditioning to be on these teams.
So before I get too much into the politics of minor league pay, which is a
very important topic to me ,and one we’ll discuss at a later time, I just thought I
would give you guys a little rundown of my own experience going to a spring
training game. So here’s some clips from my experience at George M Steinbrenner
Stadium in March of 2019. Enjoy. [Announcer: Designated Hitter, Number 99, Aaron Judge!] [YMCA by The Village People plays] So I hope you enjoyed that look at my
spring training experience, and remember to subscribe to the channel, leave a
comment below. Have you ever been to a spring training game? Cactus League?
Grapefruit? Did you like it, did you hate it, did you pay way too much
money for it? I’m a $160 dollars less in my bank account to see
the Tigers lose to the Yankees, and that my friends, is not the greatest way to
spend a day. But I got some sunshine ,so it was still a lot of fun. Leave a
comment below, tell me if you want to go to spring training, if you’ve ever been
to spring training, all your experiences like that.
Subscribe, follow me online, and have a wonderful day. We’ll see you next time.

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