Why Spring Training is Great: Fan’s Thoughts

The Cardinals open camp today for pitchers and catchers, and every baseball fan loves this day. Here are some reasons spring training is, with apologies to Andy Williams, the most wonderful time of the year.

The Weather - As someone who has spent all of his Februaries shoveling snow and trying not to slip on the ice, I love seeing pictures of ballplayers working out on sun-dappled fields, with palm trees swaying just outside the outfield fences. Plus, just the names of the two leagues, Grapefruit and Cactus, evoke images of warmth. If it's spring training, spring itself can't be too far behind, can it?

Everyone is Healthy - The nagging injuries of the previous season have gone away over the winter. Every spring we read about players who have dropped weight and look great coming into camp. Last year it was Lance Berkman, and this year we have already read that Yadier Molina looks leaner this spring. Last year's horrible news from spring training, that Adam Wainwright was lost for the season, is but a bad memory, and initial reports are that Waino is already impressing this year.

Everyone is Tied for First - OK, so I don't know what it's like to be a Royals or a Pirates fan. But for a whole lot of clubs this spring, optimism is the order of the day. New managers (Cardinals, Cubs, Marlins, Red Sox, among others), new players (think Angels fans are excited this year?), new ballparks (Marlins) and new even uniforms (Marlins, again) lend fuel to water cooler talk and get fans pumped up for a new season.

Storylines - Who will win a spot on the 25-man roster? Will the aging veteran brought into camp make an impact? Will a rookie headed for the minors impress so much the manager has to keep him? These questions are always intriguing to fans.

The Cardinals start workouts today and play their first regular season game on April 4. That leaves 47 days for these answers to sort themselves out, and expect lots of stories and news to make its way north from Florida in that time.

Brad Boeker is a native of St. Louis. He has rooted for the Cardinals for over 40 years.

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Updated Saturday, Feb 18, 2012