With Opening Day II right around the corner, it’s finally time to bid adieu to Spring Training. As always it started out a pleasure, then dragged on for what seemed like an eternity, but we’ve made it through the slog nonetheless; only two more rounds of meaningless games (including today’s slate) remain before we can settle down for the halcyon days of an 162-game summer. So on that note, let us send off Spring Training in style, and celebrate the good, the bad, and the downright ridiculous, in the manner I have arbitrarily deemed best – a two-part GIF review.
One of the most exciting aspects of Spring Training every year – without fail – is the first time you see the winter’s big free-agent signings with their new teams. It still seems weird to watch Robinson Cano rope his first hit for the Mariners, but $240 million apparently quickly erases any loyalty to certain laundry. Cano has had an impressive spring, cranking an .435/.480/.522 line, his squad compiling a 17-11 record – but as we all know, Spring Training stats aren’t especially indicative of regular season success.
Seeing Curtis Granderson wearing Mets blue and orange rather than pinstripes wasn’t especially strange; seeing him get hands on with the Cardinals’ first baseman Scott Moore on the other hand… pretty disturbing (though it should be noted they were once teammates in the minor leagues with the Tigers, so perhaps it was just an overly-friendly renewal of acquaintances).
With David Price quietly staying put in Tampa, Masahira Tanaka was the most wildly talked about pitcher of the offseason. The Yankees landed him from his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, thanks to a huge 7 year, $175 million offer (including posting fee), only for Brian Cashman to dub him “a really solid, consistent No. 3 starter.” Judging from his outings this spring, it now seems safe to say the Yankees GM was simply downplaying the ace up his sleeve.
Not everything went so smoothly for the Evil Empire during their spring tune-up however. Their infield is approximately 300 years old – not that Cashman noticed – and apparently, they still have a ton of work to do in regards to the simple tenets of fielding – lest more fantastically amusing collisions occur when the games actually count. Here’s a starting tip: don’t throw your mask down the third base line when going for straightforward pop-ups Brian McCann!
Of course, there were also plenty of moments of fielding brilliance to counter the Yanks’ ineptitude. Josh Reddick – a prime bounce back candidate after a 2013 marred by wrist injuries – bagged himself a pair of home run robberies early on, both at the expense of new Giant Michael Morse. (Only one GIF is necessary, seeing as they were nearly identical Spiderman grabs).
Even Daniel Murphy, legitimately one of the worst defensive second basemen in the Majors, managed one instance of amazing work, somehow throwing out the PED-free Bryce Harper with a throw from between his legs. Don’t hold your breath hoping for more of the same Mets fans, Murphy is significantly more likely to end up at first base once Ike Davis and Lucas Duda inevitably fail than to produce a play like this again.
Finally (for today at least), it wouldn’t be Spring Training without a couple of embarrassing incidents occurring on the grassy knolls that serve as outfield bleachers. Hey, anytime you can let your child careen down an incline while you chase after a baseball, to steal a joke from Bill Simmons, you have to do it! I mean, you’re not seriously there solely to watch the Marlins play right?
At least our father of the year didn’t make a complete fool of himself though, unlike this guy below. I’m not sure which is worse, falling over so pathetically, or the beer-toting bro in the Paul Konerko jersey prancing off prize in hand while the desperate kids look on.
That’ll do it for part I of my Spring Training GIF-cap, check back tomorrow for the second remembrance of the weird and wonderful. My thoughts on more serious matters, ie. the Miguel Cabrera extension, if they weren’t already apparent, can wait a while – Miggy isn’t going anywhere for a long time thanks to Dave Dombrowski’s ignorance of aging patterns.