Can this off season get any longer? I am chomping at the bit for the 2017 baseball season to start. Having seen just about enough of football, basketball, hockey, figure skating, golf, tennis, horseshoe flinging and high stakes marble shooting from Vegas. I have watched every ball game I recorded last season at least three times going back to the All-Star game.
All the talk about rotations, bullpens and rosters are just not doing it for me. I need some action on the diamond. I have heard enough about free agents, trades, contract talks, extensions and my favorite, “Designated For Assignment.” What a pleasant way to inform a player that he is headed for the glue factory.
Yes, spring training can’t start soon enough for me. I need to see some real live games very soon.
One of the things I look forward to doing in spring training is to spend most of my time watching the minor league prospects. It takes me away from the 25 man roster of veterans who understandably seem to be just going through the motions as they get ready for another long season.
The place for me, is the simple back fields of a spring training complex. The ones that look like high school fields.
That is where you will find players with unfamiliar names and faces. Most of them have been in pro ball somewhere for a few years, and are comfortably familiar with the way things are done. Stretching, running and soft tossing until the coaches start the practice day the same as it was done when Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Tom Seaver played.
Pitchers will be working on drills covering first base and throwing in bullpen sessions. Position players will be on a simple diamond doing fielding drills, then breaking off to hit live pitching from crusty veteran coaches.
There will be former big leaguers walking around talking and working with these prospects and a lot of friendly kidding going around that brings about smiles and laughter from the young players. You can feel a sense of happiness and excitement among these teammates.
I am always on the lookout for a few who will stand out among the approximately 140 or so in camp. Listening for a different sound from a ball hitting a bat, or a loud bang from a catchers mitt, so I can say “Who is that?” or “Where did they find that guy?”
The feeling of possibly being at the beginning of a stars career, is always exciting. You never know if you are looking at the next Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw. They are out there, somewhere on one of those back fields, about to burst out into the baseball world of fame and fortune.
Coming out of hibernation for the beginning of a new season of baseball will happen soon and I know it will be another year where we will see excitement, disappointment, huge disasters and amazing feats.
As of this writing, it is only 36 days, 9 hours, 23 minuets and 15 seconds until pitchers and catchers. Think I can make it.
William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and advanced scout.