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Baseball is (almost) back

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Some things I’m looking forward to the most in Spring Training

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

This time tomorrow morning, the Cardinals will be warming up for their first game of 2019. Their first opponent Saturday afternoon, is the ‘new-look’ Miami Marlins.

The other opponent Saturday:

The weather.

Much like their fellow baseball brethren in Arizona, the Cardinals and the other Grapefruit League teams kicking off this weekend are potentially going to be victims of a wet start to spring baseball. However, I imagine 70-80 degree temps with rain are a lot more tolerable than the 30s and 40s with snow that Arizona has been getting.

The first ‘real’ baseball played in 2019 should kick off today with the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers taking on college teams, and the Tampa Bay Rays taking on the Philadelphia Phillies. Saturday is when (weather permitting) everything starts to feel all warm and fuzzy again.

15 games across Florida and Arizona are on the schedule for Saturday. FIFTEEN.

Finally, this is what I’m most excited about headed into Spring Training. Now let me also say that these aren’t all Cardinals-related things, but things I’m excited to see as a baseball fan in general.

  1. Garth Brooks is once again in a major league camp. As he’s done a few times before, Brooks is with a major league team during the spring helping raise money for his non-profit Teammates for Kids foundation. This time around, Brooks is with the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Florida. Between 1999-2004 he spent time with the San Diego Padres, New York Mets, and Kansas City Royals, even getting some game action. This time around, we may not see it happen due to Brooks turning 57 last year. Nonetheless, Garth is out there working hard as always. Seeing someone doing good things with their time and raising money for charity like Garth is, is pretty awesome.
  2. Dexter Fowler will make his return this Sunday. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt confirmed Thursday that Fowler would see his first action of 2019 Sunday afternoon as the team makes their Spring home debut. Fowler is coming off arguably his worst season, where his OBP dropped more than 100 points, and he fractured his foot. While struggling early and then being out due to injury, Fowler watched as Jose Martinez succeeded in his absence in right field. Then, this offseason, much to the dismay of a lot of Cardinals fans, Fowler was given a vote of confidence both publicly and privately form Cardinals management. My excitement for Dexter’s return comes less from being a ‘fan’ of Fowler himself (which I am), and more from just wanting to see what Dexter has to offer the team. Is Dexter fulfilling the salary he’s getting paid or not? Is he making the team as a whole better? That’s what I want to see. He’s under a lot of pressure and scrutiny which makes for interesting theater, whichever way the story goes.
  3. Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller will be making their (unofficial) Cardinals debuts. Yeah, the stats don’t count and the uniforms aren’t usually the normal uniform. But the spectacle of new players taking the field and doing baseball things that aren’t the typical spring activities like standing or talking or throwing on flat ground or taking BP, is pretty outstanding.
  4. It’s Tebow Time. If you read the others in this list, you know I’m all about the spectacle these days. Believe me, I can hear your eyes rolling right now. Tebow however, may actually make it to the majors this year with the Mets. Last season in Double A, Tebow made the Eastern League All Star Game while hitting .274 before injuring his hand and missing the rest of the season. He’s already being bumped up to Triple A which potentially puts Tebow in line for a late season call up or possibly even sooner depending on how he comes back from the hand injury.
  5. The Bryce Harper drama will eventually end. Enough already, Bryce. Manny Machado signed. Just get it done. I may not be speaking for everyone, but I know there’s a lot of folks that agree with me. It doesn’t even matter where you sign at this point. Just. Sign. Already.

Baseball is back and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Stats courtesy of MLB.com