One of the many reasons to get excited about Spring Training is of course, the return of baseball. Sure, it’s not quite as exciting as the regular season but the thrill of seeing palm trees in March when you look outside and see a frozen planet Hoth is awesome.
With the Cubs positioned as favourites to win the big prize, you can take that with a grain of salt. It doesn’t mean anything once the season starts.
People will talk about the Curse. Get over it. There’s none. It’s fun to think about a curse but that’s all it is, a scape goat for things going wrong.
“I’ve never really dealt with the word ‘curse’ — I don’t believe in those kind of things,” Joe Maddon said “but I understand why people would talk in those terms. What it’s about is how we handle the day properly.”
The thing to really get excited about is the new guys. Let’s focus on Jason Heyward. Plucked (sorry about that) from the St. Louis Cardinals during the offseason, Heyward will plug a big hole in the outfield. He’ll provide the speed that’ll take pressure off Jorge Soler and wherever Kyle Schwarber will fit in. In fact, coupled with Soler’s powerful arm this could be one of the most intriguing outfields in the game.
“He sees everything,” Anthony Rizzo said. “He’s five steps ahead of the game. We were talking, and I’m like, ‘Wow, you think like that, too?’ He anticipates moves off the bench, why would you throw this guy that pitch in this situation. It’s little things that an outsider would never think about.”
That’s what the Cubs were missing from last season. Guys like Addison Russell who was just freakin’ incredible (So incredible, it caused my wife to pay attention to all those highlight reel catches. “Hey Beautiful, you have to come check out this catch!”)Russell will learn from Hayward who is still a kid himself at 25.
“I was fortunate enough to be taught the game and where everyone needs to be on the field,” Heyward said. “You need to understand the game in the sense of where your shortstop needs to be, where the second baseman needs to be, where the catcher is looking to be. Before the pitch is made, where are you going to go with the ball if this happens, if that happens. Those are things I was fortunate to be taught at 7, 8 years old. That’s helped me grow into myself and some of the ability I have.”
Which is funny because I was watching Field of Dreams with my son on the weekend and told him the same thing about the position of the feet. Look at the pitcher and look at the batter and you’ll see where the ball will be which he said, “Daddy, how come Shoeless Joe is playing with both his shoes on?”
The Cactus League starts next week with the Cubs first game on March 4th.