Baseball! It's the perfect sport for a laid-back afternoon, but it can drag. After what seems like an eternity of game after game, inning after inning, baking under the hot sun and trying not to get injured, you finally power through the dog days and arrive at the games that really matter: opening day.
The L.A. Times has a cute story today on the extended spring training that every team has been forced into by the World Baseball Classic. Because March is the best possible month to invite wide player participation in the WBC, and because those players need time to get ready for the tournament and readjust afterward, spring training this year lasts about seven weeks. And the players are bored.
"When you get to spring training, you're always looking forward to the season," Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen said. "You've been here for two weeks and you think, 'Dang, we still have a month left.' Sometimes it drags on."
"It's long," Dodgers utilityman Skip Schumaker said. "For the older guys, you know how many at-bats you need to get ready and feel good. And a lot of us feel good after a couple of weeks and you're ready for the season to start."
"To have our regulars here this long? No benefits," Milwaukee Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's really hard, because once they start playing a lot they feel like they're ready to go. Even in a normal spring training, that last week is when you really have to keep them motivated. Now, you add a week onto that and it makes it tougher."
Spring training is too long already, even without the added WBC cushion. As Mike Scioscia tells the Times, it's a relic of a time when no one lifted weights or adhered to offseason regimens, and was necessary for players to get in shape after a winter of growing soft. It's also a moneymaker—players don't get extra game checks for spring games, but teams still rake in the gate. More and more franchises have instituted dynamic pricing for spring training in recent years, generally raising ticket prices for good opponents as opposed to lowering them for bad ones. The WBC is a nuisance, but a profitable one.
This year, baseball's long, hot summer will follow long, dull spring [Los Angeles Times]