I love spring training, but not because of what it is. It’s currently a month-long schedule of exhibition games that is only kept around so baseball fans can be nostalgic about the game. And that’s what I love it for. I love it because it means baseball season is approaching, but at the same time I can’t wrap my head around why these exhibition games are necessary. The MLB will be shortening spring training in 2018:
Spring training will be shortened by two days starting in 2018, when new restrictions in Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement take effect on game times for regular-season getaway days.
The voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players will be 43 days before the major league opener instead of 45, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press. For other players, the date will be 38 days ahead instead of 40.
Of course, the length of spring training was never my gripe. The fact that you’re playing other teams every other day is a bit absurd. Yes, you want live at bats and you want hitters to throw against, but you can accomplish all of that within your organization. You have more opportunities to work on specific things in practice than in a practice game. For pitchers, the two innings a guy throws is just for show. They’re probably a little more amped up than they should be (which brings more risk for injury) and once they’re done on the mound their day isn’t over. They still have conditioning and possibly even more throwing to do.
I would argue, especially for pitchers, you might see guys come into the season more prepared. The players are already planning on mentally preparing for 162 games when it actually matters, so there’s no reason they should have to do that another 20 times when the games are meaningless.