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Still thinking spring


As you all know, Opening Day came and went without a single baseball game being played.

A number of Opening Day traditions, happily anticipated by many a baseball fan, didn't happen including my own.

Some bloggers acknowledged the baseball-less Opening Day, but truthfully, I wasn't in much of an Opening Day mood even before the pandemic shutdown. March 26? March? That's not Opening Day.

The last couple of years, MLB has inched Opening Day farther and farther into this month. The first March Opening Day -- that involved more than one game and that I know of -- was in 1998 and that was on March 31, the last day of March.

Any other multi-game Opening Days in March since then have been on March 31, until two years ago, when it was on March 29. And then last year it was on March 28. And now we're supposed to be playing ball, games that count, on March 26. Yeah, that didn't make sense to me.

April has always meant Opening Day to me and anything else before that, according to my brain, was spring training. That's the kind of baseball mode I was in when that non-Opening Day Opening Day came around last Thursday. I was still in spring training.

We may as well all be in spring training mode now. Whenever baseball does resume, they will start with another spring training.

So to continue in that vein, while still holding true to an Opening Day tradition, I tried to look up which team produced the best spring training record each year -- won the spring training title, if you will.

What I found was nobody gives a flip.

MLB and fans and record-keepers in general do not care about spring training stats, probably because the one thing that's stressed about spring training stats every year is that they don't count. Still, I used to look at the spring training standings in the paper every day and we still put them in our paper every day. But try to find spring training standings of the past? I couldn't. Not all of them.

I was able to track down standings for every year from the year 2020 back through 1984. That was it.

The internet is notorious for bragging about how much information it has until you try to find something the internet doesn't care about. So I figured I'd look through some of my baseball books that I own, many historical in nature.

I came up empty. I was able to find every Dodgers spring training record for every year, but that was it. Not even that book at the top of the post, an actual MLB official SPRING TRAINING media guide had the information (look online on MLB's site and it gives you spring training records up until 2003. Gee, that's helpful).

So this exercise is incomplete.

I'm still doing it though. If anyone is able to unearth spring training standings prior to 1984 then I'll update this with the rest.

Until then, here we go:

The last time the PHILLIES had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the YANKEES had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:


The last time the RED SOX had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the DIAMONDBACKS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



 The last time the A'S had the best spring training record cards looked like this:



The last time the INDIANS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the ROYALS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the BLUE JAYS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the GIANTS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the RAYS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the ANGELS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



 The last time the TIGERS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:




The last time the MARLINS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the TWINS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the ORIOLES had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the METS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the MARINERS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the REDS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the PADRES had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:



The last time the CARDINALS had the best spring training record, cards looked like this:




And that's where things abruptly end.

One of the reasons that I am disappointed that I can't find complete spring training standings through the years is because while doing the research I found that sometimes the standings DO count.

The Red Sox had the best spring training record in 2018 and won the World Series that year. The Cardinals made the World Series in 1987 after recording the best spring training record.

But more often the spring records don't indicate anything, which is why nobody cares and I can't tell you the last time the White Sox, Rangers, Astros, Braves, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs or Dodgers had the best spring training record (I CAN tell you that the Rockies and Nationals have never had the best spring training record. Perhaps the Expos did, I don't know).

So, anyway, these are the things that we do when it's spring time and there's no baseball.

For now, I'll look at Opening Day dates of the past and tell myself that it's not Opening Day yet because it didn't start until April 17 in 1951 and April 12 in 1966 and April 5 in 2009.

But whatever date Opening Day actually does start again, you can bet the Play Ball blog post will return.

Comments

I'm doubting there will be any April baseball at all.
Old Cards said…
Opening Day tradition was forever changed for me in 1972 when the players went on strike. The strike resulted in an uneven schedule and my favorite team, the Red Sox, lost the division title to the Tigers by a half-game due to the fact the Red Sox played one less game.
Brett Alan said…
I think there's zero chance of baseball in April. I think August is probably the best-case scenario, honestly.
Commishbob said…
I can cull the Orioles Spring records from my media guides, like you did for the Dodgers. If every team put their guides online like the Orioles have you could piece it all together but it would be a huge undertaking.

As I typed this I had a thought...I've seen the Sporting News archives online, though not recently. If you could locate those.....
Commishbob said…
Found it...Paper of Record has the Sporting News archives which as available as part of a SABR membership. Randomly picked 1954 (1st Orioles team, OK, not so random) and found the final ST standings in the April 21 edition after finding out when Opening Day was in '54 and going from there. Check it out:
1954 ST standings

Maybe if we stay locked down I can pull up some others just to kill time. LOL Or any SABR member can
night owl said…
Don't take me seriously guys, I realize baseball ain't starting in April.

Thanks Commish!
Fuji said…
When it comes to Spring Training, I enjoy following individual statistics of players... even if they don't count towards their official stats. But I've never cared about the team's record. And today I learned that a team's ST record doesn't influence a teams chances of making it to the World Series. Just look at the Astros, Dodgers, Cubs, and Expos (I mean Nationals).
Matt said…
So when baseball does start up again, there will have to me another "Spring" training - I guess we'll likely have co-champions for this year!
BaseSetCalling said…
What I mostly like about Spring Training is catching some broadcasts, finally, after four months without any. And on those broadcasts, the crusty old baseball veterans - the “color analysts” - tell more baseball stories than usual.

I also like Spring Training baseball cards with the unique uniforms, etc.

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