Astros 2014 Spring Training Impressions

What is Spring Training really?

For the third year in a row I went to Kissimmee, Florida, to check out the Astros. Above you'll find some of the pictures I took, which was quite honestly more than I thought I took. Unlike past years where I was trying to take as many pictures as possible and record as much video as possible, I decided to relax and enjoy the experience a little more.

I learned three important things this year. First, babies, specifically boys, are a bad idea at the ball park. My son has a fetish with stairs, which contributed to making him extremely unhappy when we refused to let him play on them. Second, beards are a bad idea in Florida. I usually shave and shorten all the hair on my head when I got to Florida, this year I decided to keep the beard and I regretted that decision very quickly. Finally, Spring Training is not a magical place where players rediscover themselves.

As much as we'd like to think of this time and period as a fresh start for players, for the most part, players are exactly who we thought they were. Very few are going to make adjustments that exponentially change our opinion of them. For the most part these guys are preparing for the season and we should take it as just that, preparation:

  • Jonathan Villar is going to make some pretty spectacular plays and some unspectacular plays.
  • Jarred Cosart can dominate a game, but he can just as easily be at 100 pitches in the fifth inning.
  • Matt Dominguez is going to struggle to walk, but he'll hit for power and flash the leather at third.
  • George Springer is really fast and swings really hard.

Spring Training is like a player stretching before the game or warming up in the bullpen. We don't draw any conclusions from those activities and we shouldn't draw any conclusions from Spring Training.

Here are some other thoughts of Spring Training:

Major Leagues

  • Jon Singleton made a nice play at first base on a weird hop. He likes his top two buttons undone and he's growing a wicked beard.
  • Reid Ryan is shorter than I thought he would be.
  • Orbit was really good with the crowd and very entertaining. He messed with Astros and opposing players. He also messed with opposing fans, but everyone seemed to love him. Very athletic.
  • I have yet to collect a major or minor league ball. My daughter got four balls, all signed by either major or future major league players.

Minor Leagues

  • Anthony Bass looked good in the minor league game he pitched.
  • I knew Tony Kemp was short, but seeing him in person, wow.
  • Conrad Gregor hit a home run to right center.
  • Two batters later Ronnie Mitchell hit a home run to right field.
  • Jason Martin hit a double that allowed him to show off his wheels.
  • Brett Phillips has got some wheels too, but is still struggling to hit.
  • All the minor league catchers look like they can receive the ball really well.

Soundscape

I decided to record some audio this year and create a soundscape of Spring Training. Unfortunately, I only record one day, the Friday major league game. The audio is seven minutes long and I am extremely curious to hear what you think about it. Do you like it? Did you turn it off after a few minutes? Do you want more of it? Any feedback would be appreciated. Personally, I think it's a little soothing.

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