“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.”
Longtime Washington Post columnist George Will made this observation long ago– and it remains one of the most accurate quotes ever uttered about baseball. The truth behind Will’s words has been evident throughout baseball history; whether its in important historical figures like Jackie Robinson, or other stars like Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth who transcended sports to become American pop culture icons.
Today, Will’s Law is on full display in spring training. There’s something different about spring training compared to other sports’ preseasons. It gives you the feeling that summer is just around the corner. Baseball fans cannot get enough of spring training, and unlike other sports, its games are fun to watch– even in the late-innings when you don’t recognize half of the players.
Case in point: Zack Greinke’s bullpen session yesterday. Greinke threw a bullpen session for ten minutes– ten minutes. He wasn’t even throwing to a batter. Yet, it drew the collective attention of the baseball world, trending on Twitter and garnering hundreds of articles, views and clicks.
You don’t see this in any other sport. Not to knock other sports (I personally can’t stand when the NBA Memes page knocks the NFL, as if you can only be a fan of one sport), but this kind of excitement in the preseason is almost exclusive to baseball. I don’t remember the last time there was this much buzz over a September Kevin Durant shootaround or Sidney Crosby morning skate. Football is probably the only sport with similar hype to its preseason, and even the NFL does not get this much attention for an individual drill.
Greinke then took 20 minutes of questions after his ten minutes of throwing. The fact that this many reporters showed up for this ten minutes of throwing shows how much interest there is in Greinke’s ten minutes of throwing. And all he did was ten minutes of throwing.
Baseball may not be the most popular sport in America anymore– it was overtaken by football long ago, and even basketball seems to be gaining on MLB. But there’s no doubt that spring training is the most entertaining of the four preseasons. In fact, it’s not even a preseason– it’s spring training. As Mr. Will might say, not all holes, or preseasons, are created equal.