It’s that time again, baseball fans! Spring training is officially back in swing. With everything baseball coming back, here is what you need to know about Spring Training and the upcoming season.
As of this week, all teams have officially begun spring training games. The Angels, Cubs, Reds, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Diamondbacks, Royals, Dodgers, Brewers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners, and Rangers represent the Cactus league in Arizona, whereas the Braves, Orioles, Red Sox, Tigers, Astros, Marlins, Twins, Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Rays, Blue Jays, and Nationals are down in Florida with the Grapefruit league. The reasons behind the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues are similar to the American and National leagues; however, teams are able to play against other teams that they most likely will not play again in the main season. As of Monday, March 8, the Miami Marlins lead the Grapefruit league 4-1, with the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays just behind with a 4-3 standing. In Arizona, the Kansas City Royals lead the Cactus league 7-2, with the Chicago Cubs just behind them with a 5-2-1 standing. As trades are continuing and official rosters for teams are in the works, it has been interesting to see new and familiar players on the fields, giving us fans a sneak-peek into the upcoming season.
As of right now, the MLB announced that the official start to the 2021 season will be April 1. This year, teams will play up to 162 games (depending on the virus and team safety), which is a major improvement over the 2020 season, which only averaged about 60 games per team. According to an interview with NBC Sports, the MLB states that the season will function as it did previous to the 2020 season, with the addition of some COVID precautions. Similar to the NBA and NFL, coaches and players will be tested daily and required to wear facial coverings whenever possible. Coaches will also be required to wear communication and contact tracing devices. With that “return to normalcy,” some rules have been reversed, such as seven-inning doubleheaders and second-base runners in extra innings. Most excitingly, stadiums are allowing up to 20% capacity in the stands. It will be great to see fans in the stands again this season. While it was awkward for us to watch at home, players and coaches stated that they missed the energy and hype from the bleachers.
Many networks such as Marquee are making Spring Training games more available by airing them on live TV; games can also be watched through play-by-play on the MLB mobile app or website so that you never have to miss a game. After the year we all have had, it is pretty great that baseball is officially back in full swing.