Student Life

Hope or Nope: a Look into MLB Spring Training

Major League Baseball Logo. (Photo courtesy Major League Baseball)

The smack of a ball into a glove. The crack of the bat. Chin music. High cheese. It’s all back as MLB spring training started on February 22nd. I, along with other baseball fans on St. Ambrose University’s campus and around the world, turn their attention towards sunny Florida and Arizona, where their favorite MLB teams get set for preseason. 

Some people mark the start of spring when the snow starts to melt, or when they can go outside without their winter coat. For many, spring training marks the start of spring, as well as the start of MLB’s preseason.

I have always loved baseball. It is my favorite sport. I am not immune to the excitement of the new season. On the radio show “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” that I do with my co-host Ryan Schiestel, we talked about our love for spring training. We both have traveled to Arizona to see the Chicago Cubs in preseason action. 

Schiestel says there is a different vibe at spring training compared to a regular season game.

 “The players are having fun, the fans are having fun. The games in the regular season are more serious. In spring training, it’s much more fun,” Schiestel says

It has been a while since I have been to an MLB spring training game, but I remember the atmosphere being much more relaxed.

What I vividly remember was White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle coming in from the bullpen where he was throwing before the game, stopping in front of my section  and talking to a woman. After he went into the dugout, someone with the team came out and gave her Buehrle’s number. So you can tell that the players are having more fun with it. 

Spring training is a time to see old favorites and established veterans, but also a time to see new additions and some up-and-comers. There are three notable additions to MLB rosters from abroad: Shota Imanaga goes from the Yokohama Bay Stars to the Cubs and Yoshinobu Yamamoto leaves the Orix Buffaloes to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, both from Nippon Professional Baseball. Lee Jung-hoo comes from the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization to join the San Francisco Giants. 

Cardinals fan and professor of political science, Duk Kim, says he wants to make time this summer to see Lee Jung-hoo and superstar Shohei Ohtani play in person. Kim does admit that after Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina retired, he has paid less attention to MLB. 

Former SAU professor and Yankees fan, Duke Schneider says he is excited to see if the Yankees made the right improvements. The Yankees’ big move this offseason was to aquire outfielder Juan Soto via trade. While Schneider says he is optimistic about the upcoming season, he makes sure to add that a season can take a downward turn quickly.

“All it takes is one injury,” he remarks. 

Cardinals fan and SAU sophomore, MacKenzie Kent echoes the excited words of other fans. She says that recently her social media feed has been full of baseball content. The player she is most excited to see is middle infielder Tommy Edman

She believes that the Cardinals will be a decent team, saying, “There’s a lot of hope. I don’t know if it’ll be achieved or not, but there’s a lot of hope.”

Most of the fans that I talked to were enthusiastic about their favorite team, but not all of them had that hope for the upcoming season. 

Communications professor and White Sox fan, Greg Armstrong took a moment to think before sharing, “For the first time in a long time, I’m not excited for the White Sox. Even in years where they weren’t going to be good, at least they were building to something. Now, not so much.”

Armstrong does say that despite little hope for the White Sox, he is happy to see baseball return. 

The start of a new season is always exciting. The reasons for fans’ excitement can be different depending on the team. For some, it is a look at a potential championship contender. For fans of teams with lower expectations, it can be a glimpse into the future of a rising star within an organization. 

Spring training excites every baseball fan, regardless of the team they support or their favorite player, as it signifies that opening day is approaching. So get ready because the season will start before you know it.

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