Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No excuse for Colorado Rockies fans to be in the dark

Troy Tulowitzki gets his work in at Salt River Fields 
Anyone waiting to see where Peyton Manning lands via free agency is well aware, Twitter has changed sports.


With radio talk show hosts, beat writers, national experts and the guy in the next cubicle over tweeting every single move a player or a team makes, Twitter has educated the masses, but it has also changed the game.


Five years ago, a Colorado Rockies fan would have to wait for the score to be told to them at the top of the hour to find out who won the spring training game. With the knowledge of who won or lost, and potentially finding out if a player had a good day was all the true fan needed.


After all, spring training is just a preparation period. 


Spring training is when players get their swings back, when pitchers work on certain pitches, regardless of counts, and when the final three innings are played between guys whose jersey numbers are in the 80's and most likely will be spending the majority of their season in Single-A or Double-A. 


Well, that is what spring training used to be.




Try it next time. Log in to Twitter briefly in the middle of the day when a spring training game is going on. Take a look at the timeline and reality strikes. Every single pitch is described in 140 characters or less.


It might be one thing if it was one beat writer, but its not. In fact, it usually is three beat writers for each team. Every single pitch, every swing, every passed ball, every stolen base, every lineup, every move that is made.


The age of information is great. It gives fans a chance to really see who is doing well in camp and who has a chance to make the coveted Opening Day roster. Without Twitter, many Rockies fans would have no idea who Brandon Wood is, let alone that he might be their Opening Day third baseman and that he is tearing the cover off the ball in Scottsdale.


Without Twitter, very few would know that Casey Blake, signed to buy time for prospect Nolan Arenado to get reps in the minors, has had recurring issues with his surgically repaired neck. 


The information makes the average fan that much more excited for the beginning of baseball games that really matter. It makes acquaints fans in Denver with guys who won't be there for two or three more years.


However, like everything, there is a downside. Make no mistake, wins and losses mean absolutely nothing in spring training. Does a team want to lose a bunch of games in a row? Of course not. The realty, though, is that  the competitive desire to win games simply isn't involved in a spring game, nor should it be.


Many fans don't realize this. They are fans, so they want their team to win every single time they step on the field, whether it is September, July or a split-squad matchup in March. Wanting to win is what makes being a fan fun. The only problem is that these games are not about winning and losing, they are about getting work in to be ready for the season.


Twitter also makes it easy to start doubting players. Dexter Fowler, who reportedly put in more work this offseason than ever before, recorded only one hit in his first 10 at-bats. To Fowler, this probably means nothing. He isn't worried about getting hits, he is worried about seeing pitches and squaring up the ball. However, back at home, loyal Rockies fans are biting their names wondering if Fowler has what it takes to make the next step.


Rockies fans may have it the best, or worst, because the beat writers that cover the team throughout the spring are as good as they come. Troy Renck of the Denver Post is a Twitter machine. He answers questions,   gives fans injury updates, tweets out the lineups and is always on top of any news. Patrick Saunders, back on the beat for the Post, is following in Renck's footsteps, and MLB.com's Thomas Harding is no slouch when it comes to Twitter.


The reality is, getting the news as it happens is great. Just don't get too worried when the team doesn't hit well, doesn't pitch well, and doesn't win games. In the end, it doesn't matter one bit. Winning is an afterthought in spring. It's all about getting work in.


Now, back to seeing if Peyton Manning is a Bronco.


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