God Bless MLB Spring Training

Baseball is officially back as Spring Training 2024 gets underway in Florida and Arizona.

The Washington Nationals host the New York Yankees at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 22, 2023.

By Tom Sileo Published on February 23, 2024

Warm sunshine. The crack of the bat. Fleeting hope that your favorite MLB team actually has a chance to win the World Series. At long last, Spring Training is back.

While millions of baseball fans across America look forward to Spring Training, it is even more special to those of us who live in Florida and Arizona. While growing up in the chilly northeast, I never imagined being able to regularly attend professional baseball games in February and March. The fact that my favorite team trains a mere half hour from my house is the icing on the cake.

Excluding the silly 2020 COVID (and greed) shortened MLB “season,” recent baseball history shows us that for baseball fans, hope really does spring eternal. In 2019, the Washington Nationals defied the odds by becoming the first team ever to win four World Series games on the road. In 2021, the Atlanta Braves won it all despite having the worst record of any team entering that postseason.

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Last year, the Arizona Diamondbacks came out of nowhere to reach the World Series before falling to a fellow wild card team, the Texas Rangers. For baseball fans like me, it was refreshing to see the D-backs unexpectedly back in the Fall Classic after a 22 year-drought and the Rangers after 12.

Some might argue the odds of a Cinderella champion this coming season are low. The Los Angeles Dodgers spent nearly $1 billion this past off-season, including giving the biggest MLB contract ever to two-way Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani. Despite all of those superstar additions, however, the Dodgers still play in the same division as the defending National League champion Diamondbacks, who swept L.A. out of last year’s playoffs. Who’s to say the D-backs or another overlooked team can’t defy the odds all over again?

To this baseball fan, that’s the beauty of Spring Training. Not only can you dream of October glory, but enjoy the exhibition games in front of you without caring whether your favorite team wins or loses. February and March baseball also gives fans a glimpse at the future, with many rookies and prospects playing at least a portion of the spring with the big league club. Whenever you attend a Spring Training game, there’s a chance you might be seeing the next great superstar during the earliest stages of his career.

The Spring Training game I’m most looking forward to this year is on March 9 at the CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida. Before the Washington Nationals play the Miami Marlins, there will be an incredibly special moment for my family when our 4-year-old daughter Natalie walks out onto the field. Nat, who has Down syndrome, will be throwing out the first pitch that evening with a little help from her dad. We are so grateful for this opportunity to spread Down syndrome awarness while Nat’s smile shines even brighter than the stadium’s lights.

There will be many special moments like these all spring at ballparks throughout Florida and Arizona. Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, going to even one Spring Training game is an opportunity to set aside life’s strains and enjoy the beautiful sunshine, blue sky and green grass that God created. Most of all, it’s a chance to share a wonderful day or night with your son or daughter.

Will my favorite team win the World Series this year? Almost certainly not, but who cares? Baseball is back, the weather is warm and most importantly to our family, Natalie is throwing out the first pitch at a game this spring!

 

Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the forthcoming I Have Your Back, the recently released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on X @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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