The Kansas City Royals started their Cactus League schedule on Sunday with a 6-1 win over their campus mate Texas Rangers. A win as a good way to start the exhibition season, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that having any type baseball broadcast over any medium was a cause for celebration. I’m also confident that by the second game on Monday afternoon I was not the only person trying to figure if any of the individual player performances in these games mean anything.
As much as I’d like to tell myself that a 4-3 record for the Royals at this point in spring training is a good omen. Baseball fan experience tells me it doesn’t mean a whole lot. They do not give out Cactus League Championship rings. They don’t hang Cactus League Championship Banners at Kauffman Stadium, and if they do print Cactus League Championship t-shirts no one should wear them. In fact, the phrase “Cactus League Champion” is so irrelevant that a Google search only brings up four returns, and one of those was from the Royals Review message board.
The Royals have won the Cactus League twice since I’ve been paying close enough attention to notice these things. In 2006 the Royals won the Cactus League and proceeded to lose 100 games during the season. Last year the Royals won the Cactus League and only won 71 games. While it’s good to not look terrible in spring training, winning a lot of games during spring training doesn’t mean that much.
Spring Training is about established major leaguers getting their work in, deciding some position battles, and fringe players catching on with an organization. I have some interest in these battles, but not a whole lot. Other than hoping prospects live up to their potential I’m more concerned that the Royals break camp healthy, and the young players continue their improvement. Only way to improve is to get reps in major league situations. As I fan I don’t have much involvement in that. Nor do I really have any favorites to make the team, just as long as the best players break camp.
Outside of position battles is there any meaning in spring training? Only baseball for baseball’s sake. It’s been a long winter and it’s nice to have any baseball. This is my first spring training with access to MLB Network, and the MLBatBat App on my phone. My access to baseball has never been better. Not only is fan access better, during March the inventory of baseball is greater than during the regular season. With split squad contests, there are 18 games on the schedule today. During the regular season there can only be 15. I guess spring training is a lot like spring break. Don’t look for meaning, just enjoy the experience.