A (Completely Unconnected) List Of Things I’ve Learned This Spring Training

Which brings me to number one on my semi-random list of things I’ve learned this Spring Training:

  1. The MLB At Bat iPad app might be the best thing I’ve ever bought. Ever. And that includes the actual iPad on which I use the app (I have the thing two months before they come out with a new one—and I already stretched my tiny budget to get this now out of date one). I’m not a paid spokesman for MLB—or whoever sells it—but I would totally be awesome at that job. This thing has better resolution than my Spanish TV, which I use to watch one of the four channels of psychics that are on all day. I can watch every televised Yankee Spring Training game, and I get to hear Michael Kay’s sweet baritone, and I get up to the minute (meaningless) stats. And now for something totally unconnected:
  2. Being in the Best Shape Of His Life doesn’t actually mean that the player looks like he’s in good shape. I forget that this is all relative, which means that it’s a bit ridiculous to talk about. Prince Fielder, for example, might be In The Best Shape Of His Life, but he’ll still look like an offensive lineman. Phil Hughes is in The Best Shape Of His Life, but he still looks pretty wide around the midsection (no disrespect—I’ve always been a bit wide around the midsection). I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t realize this before, but these discussions are all relative—and for some reason that makes me care about them even less.
  3. Is it required that all baseball people covering Spring Training wear cargo shorts and light colored Hawaiian-style shirts? I feel like there are just way too many baseball writers in shorts and Hawaiian shirts: a huge proportion of anchors covering the games wear this outfit. I’ve seen it, like, a million times. It’s getting to that NFL Pro Bowl level, where if you’re not in a Hawaiian shirt and/or cargo pants you’re weird. This picture doesn’t quite do what I’m saying justice.
  4. Kobe Bryant’s crazy injection thing worked. Bartolo Colon’s crazy stem cell injection thing worked. And A-Rod is looking pretty good so far this Spring Training. I know we’re not supposed to jump to conclusions (and each one of these guys received different injections into different body parts, and these injections probably have little-to-nothing to do with their actual performance), but shouldn’t the Yankees be mandating that all their injured players go get semi-experimental “Orthokine” osteoarthritis injections into whatever they injure? If you don’t understand what these injections are, here’s an incredibly boring video about it. And here’s a slightly less boring graphic depiction of it. And hey, the doctor who oversaw the injection swore that, “no banned substances were used in A-Rod’s treatment.” So we’re all good!
  5. Sticking with A-Rod, I’m really tired of Wallace Matthews referring to him as “Al B. Al.” And before any defenders get indignant, yes, I do get the semi-joke. I just don’t think it’s funny. Or cute. Or whatever. And Andrew Marchand, whose articles I tend to find well written (at least), needs to stop FOR THE LOVE OF MO referring to “velocity” as “V-LO”. /endrantaboutESPNNY.
  6. Can we stop some of the nonsense about pitcher’s velocity in the first two weeks of Spring Training? As far as I can understand (and, admittedly, that’s not that far), the most important thing at this stage of the process is control. Keep an eye on how the guys are controlling their secondary offerings, limiting walks, getting ground balls, keeping things down in the zone. That’s what they’re working on, and that’s what we should be focusing on. The fastball V-LO (HA!) will come. Unless you’re Phil Hughes in 2011.
  7. You can really tell the difference between major leaguers and most minor leaguers. There’s not that much more to that thought: major league veterans play the game a certain way, have a certain approach to every part of the process, and minor leaguers are very noticeably different in some things. The main thing I notice is how they play the field: young minor leaguers tend to take choppy routes to fly balls and grounders, clearly expending a lot of energy to make plays; major leaguers have a lot more glide in how they approach plays—they’re much smoother, and while they probably expend just as much energy as the young guys, you just don’t notice it (except for Raul Ibanez…that dude is terrible in the field).
  8. The Yankee pitching staff could line up against the Golden State Warriors and probably not be hugely overmatched height-wise. The only real mis-match would come at point guard, where Stephen Curry (6’3”) would dominate Hiroki Kuroda (6’1”). I’d wager that Pineda (6’7”) and CC Sabathia (6’7”) could at least match up against David Lee (6’9”) and Dorell Wright (6’9”), considering the Yankees’ weight advantage. OK, this is a stretch, but still, are you telling me you haven’t thought about the pitching staff as a basketball team?

Alright, this article is a bit against the grain, I’ll admit that. But I didn’t really have the energy to write up a Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, (Ivan Nova?!) statistical comparison showing unequivocally why Hughes and Nova should make the rotation out of camp. I will say this, though: I did get to watch most of Hughes’ outing last night against the Twins, and he looked good. Like break out the champagne, it’s 2010 all over again good: his fastball had some zip to it, he was keeping his breaking stuff down, and he seemed collected and like he wasn’t forcing anything. Strong outing.

So, what did I miss? Anything you all have seen in Spring Training that didn’t catch my eye?

9 thoughts on “A (Completely Unconnected) List Of Things I’ve Learned This Spring Training

  1. I used to think that baseball started going to hell in a handbasket when they started referring to “speed” as “velocity.” But then I realized that if they went back to “speed,” there would be 3000 extra syllables every broadcast that Michael Kay would have to make up off the top of his head.

  2. A terrifically enjoyable romp, Gabe. Enjoyed this post a lot. And, yes, I am definitely envious of the Spain teaching gig. How come you weren't on House Hunters International?

  3. Referring to it as "Michael Kay's sweet baritone" immediately casts doubt on the validity of anything this writer has to say.

    • Sounds about right. It's like how I didn't vote for LeBron for the All-Star team because his hairline is receding. (sarcasm) Great article, Gabe. Keep it going…