So it’s Spring Training and you find yourself craving, nay, lusting for any and all baseball content. I feel you. At least most of you live in Southern California. Try living in Canada. Puddles everywhere here are frozen solid. Baseball’s not even an afterthought. But I digress.
By now the initial excitement of those magical mid-February words ‘Pitchers and Catchers Report’ has worn down to a dull nub of choruses mumbling “I’m in the best shape of my life” and “We’re ready to take the next step” and “Travis Hafner’s new locker is beside Nick Swisher’s old locker.”
If you’re like me, the prospect of actual games being played—even if mostly meaningless—is one that brings with it so much excitement that I can feel the crotch of my pants getting tight. From me sliding toward the edge of my seat you pervert!
But then again, if you’re like me, after about the twenty-sixth time you mutter “Who the b’geezus is that?” when watching some skinny kid with a double-flapped helmet and a number on his back larger than the year you were born, you remember why Spring Training games just don’t cut to your heartstrings quite like the real thing.
But have no fear, I’m here to help with five ways to truly enjoy Spring Training baseball.
1) Don’t look at the score. Seriously. Block it out of your mind. If you have to, go get some duct tape and cover it up on the screen. It doesn’t matter. The managers don’t care, the players barely care, neither should you. Spring Training is about getting ready for real baseball, not actually playing it right now. On top of that, it has absolutely zero bearing on anything. If the Angels lose all of their spring games, it doesn’t mean they won’t contend. The players who will make up the actual team aren’t even playing half the game. The starting pitchers will start out throwing two innings before giving way to people you’ve never heard of.
2) Don’t look at the stats either. Last spring Matt Hague hit as many home runs as Albert Pujols. Munenori Kawasaki hit .455. Luis Mendoza had a 0.47 ERA. The competition is vastly different in the spring, players are often working on something specific that may cause them to perform badly, and there are issues of extremely small sample sizes. If you obsess over Mike Trout’s .148 batting average or Kole Calhoun’s 10 home runs, then you’re doing it wrong. Relax.
3) Look for prospects. This would be a good time to consult your copy of Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, or read up on what Keith Law or Jason Parks have to say about who the best yet-to-be Major Leaguers are. Find a few highly touted prospects, read up on what makes them so well-regarded and watch for it on the field. Unfortunately the Angels are rather thin in this regard, but watch Kaleb Cowart get his at-bats and then find out who to watch for on other teams
4) Enjoy pressureless baseball. This one has the potential to swing toward irritating, but sometimes watching professionals ply their wares without having to stress over who’s going to win or lose is fun. Take the time to do something medial while watching the Angels play their first games this weekend. Dust the living room. Sort your coin collection. Neglect your children while writing down ideas for that novel you’ve been meaning to write. The game can be background noise for your otherwise awesome life rather than the center of attention.
5) Enjoy the novelty. Try to remember that a week ago, there was no real baseball being played. A month ago, you were probably watching the Ducks game. Whatever you were doing, it sucked compared to watching even the most meaningless of professional baseball games. It won’t last forever. In a few months the winter will return (or whatever you fine folks in the Anaheim area call “winter”) and you’ll be alone in a room watching Kobe Bryant get old on your television set. Or you’ll be playing a wholesome game of Monopoly with your youngest daughter. Something crappy. Enjoy it while it’s here, even if it’s pointless.
Whatever your method for enjoying the fruits of Spring Training, just remember that no matter what happens, the Angels are probably going to be really good this season. And you know, Mike Trout.
Be sure to keep your internet machine dialed to Halo Hangout once the games do get underway. I’ll be ushering in the return of Halo Highlights on Saturday for the first day of action. Your Angels are taking part in some split-squad action at home against Cubs and on the road against the Giants.