Alternative Spring Break — Spring Training
by Alex Schoemann | University of Notre Dame
As many college kids break away from their books and schools, the Boys of Summer are just starting to bust out the bats and flash the leather. For years Spring Training has been frequented by older misshapen diehards and more zealous groups of bachelors watching the beginning of many teams’ dreams take shape. In more recent springs however, the Spring Training scene has been filled with a new age demographic.
That new crew is college students and they have flooded sunny Florida and Arizona for a variety of reasons. Some come to watch their favorite star players up-close to perhaps get an autograph. Some come to not only watch America’s pastime but to also enjoy the more laid back spring break atmosphere of a baseball town. And some, believe it or not, come to study.
Those who wish to see their favorite offensive juggernauts, or ace pitchers almost always leave satisfied. Players are more available to the fans than ever and often mingle with fans during games. In addition to that many young prospects are given some of their first exposure in Spring Training and the added popularity of the draft has made this storyline even more interesting for fans. Sometimes Spring Training games get a bad rap but Daniel Ricci, a sophomore from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., has a different perspective. Though some players workout in the outfield during games, Ricci can still see the competitive sprit of the players bleed through.
“Many fans argue that because Spring Training games don’t matter they aren’t exciting,” Ricci said. “But young players and veterans are often competing for jobs and this makes some of the games even more exciting.”
Ricci was in Phoenix to take in Cactus League action for the Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training camp.
Daniel Jackson, a senior from the University of Notre Dame, witnessed some Grapefruit League action during his spring break. Jackson was in Bradenton, Fla. to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had a number of different reasons for attending Spring Training.
“Often times kids come back from spring break more tired than they were before,” Jackson said. “This year my buddies and I decided to watch a game we love while also relaxing in a more laid back beach town.”
Jackson also added that he was pretty sure the average age of Bradenton was somewhere in the high 60’s. Bradenton has a quieter nightlife, but certainly less crowded beaches. Jackson and his friends couldn’t decide if they liked the games or the beach more.
Another student went down to Florida for a completely different reason. He headed to the Sunshine State to not only enjoy a game he has loved for years, but to also to study it.
For the purposes of this article, he wishes to remain anonymous — perhaps exhibiting one of the eccentric qualities of a statistics whiz.
Many students from around the country have been inspired by the “Moneyball” craze, launched recently by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in the Oscar nominated film, to see if they can spot any inefficiencies in the game of baseball.
This particular student already has a strong inkling he’s on to something and went to Florida to see if he could strengthen his hypothesis in person. Though he wouldn’t reveal the scope of his research product he felt his week spent watching teams from around the league was very successful.
It’s clear Spring Training provides an interesting alternative for spring break, and many clubs have responded well by organizing weeklong packages. The Chicago Cubs have worked out deals with local hotels that vary by price. Some of these cheaper prices are perfect for college kids looking to get away while also watching some baseball.
Whether you’re interested in hitting the beach, hiking in Arizona, scouting for alligators in the Everglades, or checking out Disney World, building Spring Training into your break has never been easier.Alex Schoemann is a columnist from the University of Notre Dame. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Alex is majoring in English and Accountancy. Follow @AlexSchoe