Despite the fact it has only been 110 days since the Cubs bested the Indians in game seven of the World Series, it seems like an eternity since we’ve had baseball to entertain us. Unlike football, basketball, or hockey, the continuity and steadiness of baseball’s routine easily embeds itself into the daily lives of many baseball fans. Knowing when one returns from work in the evening and have the familiar voices of a local broadcast team makes the team more of friend than entertainer.
Well friends, I’m here to tell you that baseball is upon us once again!
There is plenty to look forward to this spring with college baseball beginning this week and MLB players already reporting to Arizona and Florida, exhibition baseball will be broadcast in no time. In 2017 we get an additional treat with the World Baseball Classic scheduled for next month. While this international showcase is more for the international fan than American baseball fans, there are plenty of reasons to watch this year.
The tournament begins on March 6th and will include 25 All Stars from 2016 and a total of 63 former All Stars across the 16 teams. The WBC is a great representation of MLB’s span around the world and brings a fun international format to an American game. Having MLB representation is key to the global marketing success; the Tigers for instance have 15 players competing in this year’s tournament representing six different countries. The WBC lasts from March 6th through the 22nd and will give baseball fans globally a taste of the game that’s been missed for the past few months.
Spring training games will be played at the same time as the WBC, and they too are within sight. This Friday begins a slate of spring training squads playing against other MLB teams. There is surely something comforting about clicking the MLB schedule page and seeing something other than ‘no games scheduled’.
Generally the first couple weeks of spring training are met with unadulterated enthusiasm. The see the green grass, hear the crack of the bat, and actually witness that the sun still exists is a welcome daydream for many fans in colder climates. It does not matter that once the fifth inning comes, the players are barely recognizable, the fact is that games are being played, and it means our routines are almost back to normal.
While spring training is longer than usual this year (too long in the opinion of many), MLB Opening Day is scheduled for Sunday, April 2nd. The Yankees and Rays kick off the 2017 season at 1 PM eastern, followed by the Giants and Diamondbacks at 4, and finally the Cardinals and Cubs in a nightcap that will be a celebration unlike any other the sport has seen.
With only 41 days until Opening Day, we can see the light. We can see the end. We can see the hope of most fans rooting for this year to be the year where their team makes a run. Spring is a time of rebirth, what better way to rekindle our relationship with the game we love.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano