Not much at all…
By the time you read this, I will have experienced my first Rays spring training game.. ever. Which is kind of hard to admit since I always make it a point to let everyone I know, everywhere, how much I love the Rays. But anyways, back to the point at hand. I’m really excited to go to the game, and for regular season to start, so the thought came to my mind.. “What does Spring Training really mean for the regular season”? Not too much at all.
Spring Training, just like football preseason, has barely any effect on the regular season. It’s mostly used to help the managers and other coaches decide how they want to set their line ups, pitching rotations, who to call up/down, etc. But, looking at the past in the always unpredictable Major League Baseball, it has the potential the tell you what could happen. Oakland for intense, in 2011 they finished 14 games under .500. Which wasn’t the worst, but not something to be proud of either. In 2012 they made Bob Melvin the official manager (who took over the team halfway through the previous season.) That preseason they finished 1st in the Cactus league with a 15-7 record, sort of impressive. But more importantly, they finished the regular season 1st in their division, 2nd in their league (1 game back from the Yankees), and 4 games back overall (4 games back from the Nationals). Another great example is the San Francisco Giants, a team established in 1883, is almost as old as baseball. They’ve had their ups and downs in their 130 years. But I take you to the point of this article. Lets go back to 1954, that year they won the World Series, first time since 1933. Since then they had a rough drought up until 2010. They won a couple of division titles, made it to the world series 3 times (’02,’89,’62) but was not able to win the championship. But in 2010, they had an impressive 23-12 record. That same year they finished 1st in the division, 2nd in the league, and 5th overall. And to top it all off, they were the 2010 World Series champions. Interesting, don’t you think?
And then there’s the Tampa Bay Rays. The always exciting Tampa Bay Rays, you never know what they’re going to do next. Before Joe Maddon arrived in 2006, they had a win percentage of .400 (518-775). Those were some tough years for the team and the fans(especially me). But Joe brought a whole new vibe to the team which has obviously paid off. In 2010 they won the Grapefruit League with a 20-8 record, that same year they had the best record in the AL overall and finished 2nd in the league. Didn’t make it to the World Series unfortunately, but for a team battling in the toughest division in baseball with the lowest payroll it’s a highly respectable season. Oh yeah, there’s also the 2008 season. Before that season, the most wins they had in 1 season was 70. They were hardly ever talked about as a contender, hell they were hardly even talked about. That season they had a new owner, who decided it was time for some change. They kept all the players and coaches, but thought it was a good idea to go from the Devil Rays to the Rays. That same season, they had the best win percentage in the Grapefruit League. They start catching people’s eyes. And then in that miraculous 2008 season, they finished with a 97-65 record (2nd overall to the Angels). The Rays shocked the baseball world and made it all the way to the World Series.
Of course these examples can be looked at as a mire coincidence. There are plenty of examples that can tell you the exact opposite of what i’m stating here. But as I was saying before, it has a great possibility to show you what could happen. Before Spring Training started, I made a prediction that the AL East would turn out like this.. Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees (Surprisingly, The Rays are from a bias standpoint but I honestly do not see them finishing lower than second place in the division). I could be wrong, but here’s a fun fact for you… As of right now, these 5 teams stand here in the Grapefruit League, Orioles (1st), Rays(2nd), Boston (6th), Blue Jays (9th), and the Yankees (15th, Last). So with that being said, lets see what it looks like in October.