Practice? We talkin’ about practice?

We are only 10 games into the Mets spring training schedule and I’m already getting annoyed. It seems that a lot of people are unaware of exactly what spring training is and are expecting mid-season results less than 2 weeks into normal baseball activities. Spring training is practice. Let me say that again, spring training is in fact just practice. Stats don’t matter, games don’t count, and it gives players an opportunity to try new things with their new coaches.

Just in case some of you aren’t familiar with the definition of the word “practice”, here it is as written in Webster’s dictionary:

“Practice” – A) to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient, B) to train by repeated exercises.

Hopefully reading the definition will clear up a lot of the confusion some people have when reading so deeply into the results of a spring training game. The Mets are entering the 2018 season with a new coaching staff, aside from their new manager Mickey Callaway, there’s also a new bench coach (Gary DiSarcina), pitching coach (Dave Eiland), outfield instructor (Ruben Amaro Jr) and assistant hitting coach (Tom Slater). Players need time to get used to doing things a new coaches way.

For this article I’m going to be using Steven Matz as an example. Matz has started 2 games so far this spring and in both of those starts he was slapped around something terrible. The Mets stat nerds must be sick to their stomach seeing his ERA sitting at a cool 54.00. Guess what?  Here’s where the whole concept of practice comes in, and getting used to the new coaches expectations and ways of doing things.  Matz is getting used to being on the mound post-surgery with his new manager and his new pitching coach. He may also be trying out different arm slots as well as different pitches, and what better place to try all these things than in games that don’t count.

In recent memory, Jose Quintana had a 16.35 ERA in 11 spring innings and went on to post a 3.32 mark in 32 starts that year.  And for every Quintana, there is someone who will post a 1.365 OPS in spring and then not be able to hit their way out of a paper bag come the regular season.

Just because the game is on TV or you paid money to go to the ballpark doesn’t make the game count anymore to the players than it does. Spring training games are just very well organized televised pickup games. So, if the team wants to try out new things and learn the ways of the new management I’d rather they do it during games that don’t count for shit versus trying them out during the season where wins are important, April through October. So, for everyone who’s losing their shit over a couple of starts that don’t mean a damn thing, you need to really simmer down. All you’re doing is showing us you know nothing about how actual athletes prepare for the long season ahead.

-Gary Knight


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