Yes, it’s only Spring Training.
No, the results don’t matter.
No, you might not recognise the names of most of those playing past the fifth inning.
However, right now, who cares? We haven’t seen MLB teams playing since the epic World Series Game Seven and some baseball is better than no baseball. If you haven’t eaten all day, even a basic Tesco sandwich can be savoured like a glorious plate of steak and chips.
And the negative points about Spring Training games are accompanied by positive ones. Okay, the games don’t matter so the gut-wrenching tension isn’t there, but sometimes it’s nice just to enjoy a relaxing game without your team’s closer giving you a heart attack. Most of the players in later innings are Minor Leaguers, but that will include prospects that we’ve read about and now get a chance to have a glimpse of in action.
MLB.com is promising to broadcast approximately 300 games via MLB.TV (by my reckoning, there are currently 283 on their list) as well as radio coverage from pretty much every contest. The limited number of games is simply a result of the limited coverage on U.S. TV. The full list of MLB.TV games can be found on MLB.com.
The good thing for us is that the vast majority of Spring Training games are played at around midday local time, so they are evening viewing/listening in the UK rather than in the early hours. One thing to note on that is that most of America moves into Daylight Saving Time in the early hours of 12 March, whilst we don’t move to British Summer Time until 26 March. That means there’s a two-week period in which the usual time difference (Eastern – Florida games – 5 hours behind, Pacific – Arizona games – 8) is reduced by 1 hour.
To make things a bit easier, I’ve created a schedule of the MLB.TV games putting them into UK time. This first installment covers the games up to 11 March. I’ve used grey shading to more clearly separate out the days and then itallicised games that do take place in the early hours. For those games, I have still listed them under the date in which they are played in the States, so, for example, the game on 1 March between the Dodgers and Giants is actually at 1.05 am 2 March for us.
One thing I always add in my MLB.TV Spring Training round-up is that, whilst the TV pictures are great, I love listening to spring games on MLB At Bat just as much.
That’s especially the case when it comes to my own team, the Oakland A’s. I don’t normally listen to the whole game, maybe just the first hour or so, but it’s a great way to catch up on all the stories from Spring Training camp. If it’s a cold and/or rainy British evening after a long day at work, little cheers me up more than being transported across to the sunny, relaxed atmosphere in Arizona courtesy of the A’s radio crew.
If you need any further details about MLB.TV, please take a look at my overview of the 2017 offering and the ever-growing helpful comments from other Brits that use the service.