Watching the Pirates [read: Garrett Jones] play the Yankees [spit gag barf] yesterday reminded me what I like about Spring Training games. They don't just warm up the players to get them ready for a competitive season, they're a good warm up for being a fan too. It's a good transition from high-pressure end-of-season/post-season fandom where everything matters way more than it should. It's just the opposite....there's nothing to get particularly worked up about. The scoreboard is merely a formality. You can be excited and hopeful about the little things that work, but when things go wrong, it's not the end of the world. It's very chill.
Spring training games are actually a lot like little kids' soccer games. In a good way. Everybody gets to play at some point, even if they're really really bad. Rain? Let's just call it a day. Extra innings for a tie game? hmmm.... nah. We're tired. Call it a tie and let's go home.
Of course, all that being said, the mere existence of the "Mayor's Cup" rivalry changes things a little. When the Twins play the Red Sox, I get more hyper than I am for any other games. It kind of makes me wish we had symbolic totems at stake for every AL opponent during the regular season, just to make things more entertaining for myself. I may have to invent some, time permitting. [For example, I think that the winner of the season series between the Twins and Oakland A's should win the "Trombone of Doom."]
Of course, having Boof on the Red Sox roster this spring changes things a little. Because if he pitches against the Twins...I'm cheering for Boof. Nothing personal... and I won't cheer for the Red Sox to win or anything extreme like that. But when he strikes out a Twins batter, I will cheer, unapologetically. Thankfully, he pitched yesterday for the Sox (and he was awesome, thankyouverymuch), so my loyalty won't be tested tonight. Which is good, because I love the pitching schedule the Twins have lined up for us tonight quite a lot. A Nick Blackburn/Kevin Slowey/Pat Neshek start to the game is exactly what Those Girls would pencil in if we got to make those choices.