Who’s On Base?:Spring Training Preview

By John A. Poole
Updated: November 16, 2007

Derek Jeter and Hideki MatsuiGLENN BURNIE, MD.— Before this article even gets started, please remember in your prayers Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler and his family as he passed away from heart failure due to heat exhaustion during a spring training workout. I think Charles Barkley, former NBA All Star and future Hall of Famer, said it best when he compared the sports entertainment community to a fraternity. Everyone is very tightly knit together and when a part of the family passes on it hurts everyone involved.

We pray the family of Steve Bechler makes it through this hardship but we all know it will be real tough on everyone.

Well, it’s that time of the year again! Yep, you guessed it. Baseball season has arrived once again. Now, I know most of you are still preparing yourself for the most exciting time of the year in sports, March Madness. I mean, any “real” sports fan can not deny the fact that college basketball takes precedence in the next few weeks. Basketball pools will begin to surface as the Conference championships come to a close next week. Professional players of all sports will begin to talk trash to each other as their respective schools battle for the most prestigious award in college basketball. At the same time this is happening, all of the baseball players in the major leagues, and those hoping to begin careers in the majors are down in the beautiful state of Florida trying to get into game shape to begin the most grueling season in sports.

The Major League Baseball (MLB) season consists of 162 games over a 7-month span. It’s true that baseball may not be the most physical sport in the world but it may be one that takes the most skill to perform. Trying to hit a small round ball coming at you at speeds of over 90 mph with a thin wood bat has always been considered one of the hardest things to do in sports.

At the end of March the baseball regular season will begin and all the work during this next month will have paid off for all those who make it to the “show.” For the most part all the managers in the league have a good idea of who will be starting for them on opening day barring any major injuries to their prime time players. But, on occasion a young future superstar steps up to the plate and wins themselves a job during spring training.

So, for the next few weeks, we will try to focus on those future stars that you don’t see in the headlines too often. Now, we will talk about some of the stars of today as well but throughout the season, they will be the ones making the news.

Now, as always the New York Yankees found a way to stay in the news this off-season. Mostly because of the pompous owner, George Steinbrenner.

Now, I don’t think anyone can question the fact that Steinbrenner has been one of the most successful owners in the history of the game. Over the last 7 years he has won 4 World Series titles and finished 2nd two times.

But this winter he went a step too far in my opinion. He questioned the heart and work ethic of maybe the hardest working player in baseball in Derek Jeter. Derek has become an icon at the shortstop position in just his 8th season and is considered one of the best clutch players in the game today.

Jeter hasn’t shown any ill effects of the comments made by Steinbrenner, but when the microscope starts to shine on a player during the spring training weeks, it could make for a long season if his number do not reflect anything but perfection. But at the same time, if there is a player in the league who could stand up to the challenge it would be Jeter.

Since the Yankees have started this week’s review, it’s only fitting to see who will be the Yankees strongest up and coming superstar. The name is Hideki Matsui and he coming over from the Japan Central league where he won 3 MVP titles. At 28 years old, Matsui comes into this season much like Ichiro did 2-years ago when he joined the Seattle Mariners. Matsui comes to a lineup that already has Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi and Alfonso Soriano, but if he can manage to put up the same number he did in Japan, the Yankees may be looking to be fitted again for the World Series Ring after this 2003 baseball season.

Well, Thanks again for checking in with us here at BASN. Please check back next week and every week during the baseball season as we continue to give you the best in sports information!