Michelle Martin

Spring training

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

I spent three and a half days in March in Arizona, watching baseball, going to museums and walking around on desert mountainsides with my oldest daughter, who took me on the trip as a Christmas present.

The weather was beautiful, the pace was slow and we both got some much-needed rest and relaxation.

As I watched my beloved White Sox lose two games and tie one, it occurred to me that spring training pretty much always overlaps Lent. This year, Lent and spring training coincided almost perfectly, with White Sox pitchers and catchers reporting on Ash Wednesday and opening day occurring on March 28, Holy Thursday.

It’s fitting, in a way. Spring training is a time for players to get ready for the season, to remind themselves of fundamentals, to reconnect with old teammates and get to know new ones, to learn about the team’s strategies and hopes for the new season.

Christians use Lent — a word derived from the Old English for “spring” — to reconnect to their faith, to increase their prayer, fasting and almsgiving so that we can focus on new life that is to come.

We celebrate that new life on Easter, the feast of the Resurrection, this year only days after most teams started their official campaigns and the games began to count. Each new season for them means new life, another chance at glory, no matter how unlikely it is to work out that way.

I couldn’t help thinking it was a good thing the games didn’t count during spring training, especially after watching the White Sox give up six runs before recording an out in one game. It was spring training; the score didn’t matter. What mattered was that we were sitting on the grass on a hill in the sunshine, listening to the crack of the bat and the thwack of the baseball in mitts.

It seems like a fun time for most of the players, too, although I don’t think the pitcher who gave up single-double-single-double-home run-home run in the first inning was enjoying it much. For a lot of them, the camaraderie is laced with competition. Spring training is a chance to prove yourself, but there are a limited number of berths on the major league roster, and not everyone leaves happy.

Being a White Sox fan, watching a team in the midst of the tear-it-all-down phase of rebuilding after a team that was supposed to be good fizzled, I hope I can keep that attitude during the season. Progress is good, sure, but so is sitting outside and enjoying a game. Although when it comes to truly bonehead plays, or incomprehensible managerial decisions, I can’t promise to not express a certain amount of frustration.

But that’s why we have spring training next year. Like Lent, it reminds us of what we already know, and teaches us to hope.


  • family life