I didn’t make it out to Peoria this year, thanks to the ACL, but I have made roughly 8 trips out there in the last 5 years. So it’s safe to say that I’ve seen my fair share of Spring Training action. I’ve seen it all. The backfields, the main field, the batting cages, the clubhouse, the gym and the
Usually, there’s optimism among fans. The players spout the usual cliches that you hear every year. But in the past few years you could tell that they didn’t mean it. The clubhouse was dull. It was boring. You got the feeling that they were there just to collect their check and go on their way.
Players were just going through the motions on the fields. You had pickleball going on, which if you don’t know what pickleball is here are some images a quick Google scan popped up:
Long story short, it appears to be played by only old people.
That was the Josh Byrnes era. It is now the AJ Preller era.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) March 26, 2015
That’s right, pickleball has been replaced with a 3 point shoot around contest, which was won by GM AJ Preller’s team.
Add to that, the many tweets from the writers who don’t spend a lot of time with the team.
I'm not sure I've ever seen a clubhouse of players having more fun than the Padres are this evening.
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) March 12, 2015
Last year the padres had one of the least energetic camps. No life. Been here for 15 minutes and it's organized , coaches and players talkin
— Ryan Parker (@RA_Parker) March 26, 2015
People are taking notice. Go through Ryan Parker’s entire feed from yesterday, where he had about 20 tweets gushing about the Padres camp.
Also of note this year, when you hear the players during interviews they actually sound like they are believers as well. They sound loose. They sound like they are having a good time. They sound like they want to and think they can win. This is fantastic to hear.
Add to that, the deal that James Shields signed with the team. He is making only $10 million this season. When have you ever seen a Top 5 free agent sign a deal that would help the team out like that? Granted he wanted to play in his current hometown, but to go from $10 million to $21 million every year (2016, 2017, 2018) for the remainder of his contract is quite the difference. It leads me to think that even players on the outside want to come to this franchise, that was once laughed at, and, more importantly, think that they could win.
The buzz is real this year.